MPs ready for some needling in the gym; CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT

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The Independent Online
BBRRNNGG! Gracious! Who can be Calling The Captain already? Why, it's my redoubtable political correspondent, Ms Una Tributable, fresh with the latest twists and surprises from our febrile assembly! "Captain! Just back from a vigorous work-out in the Commons gym! On the next bench to Paddy Ashdown! Kept up with him until the double black flip and mid- air transfer off the parallel bars! Anyway, they're going to have an acupuncturist in there every Monday! Something to do with alleviating stress, apparently." Goodness me! Can we have someone sticking pins into our legislators? Jack Straw gets in there on Mondays, too. Call The Captain on 0171 293 2462 and tell me what you think. Next!

YOU THERE! From time to time, as I chuckle at another witty sally and toss down another canape (no, not the prune one, thank you) in my unceasing patrol of top metropolitan salons, I worry. Worry that the Captain's coverage is not comprehensive enough. Last week, for example, 24 pallets of soap powder went missing from a lorry trailer in Bury St Edmunds, Annie Jones of Banbury passed her driving test 24 years after starting lessons, Philip Hampshire, a security officer from Norwich, revealed he is building a replica of Norwich Cathedral with 140,000 matchsticks during nightshifts, and a 400lb pig fell through the roof of John Rawstron's shed in Rossendale. All fascinating: and there must be more of it going on. Actually, I know there is, because Ms Thompson of Penzance wrote in to complain that seven public conveniences have now been closed in Penzance, Hayle and St Ives; and Mr Hughes of Shrewsbury sent a message offering to provide stories from all over Salop. So get corresponding. There could be port (look up NOW) or even a silver and black enamel effect Moonlight Badge in it. But, Mr Hughes: no, you cannot have my copy of Sir Cliff's Millennium Prayer to cure the wobble on your computer table. Whatever Next!

BABY! Well, the Captain is, naturally, very excited about the Blair baby, particularly as I notice that they might be in a bit of dither over godparents, not wanting to offend anyone, who do you choose, family, friends, world leaders, will they stand up to the Alastair interview? Well, don't worry, put me down for one! I've been doing it for a bit, and no complaints. Not since we moved, anyway. Meanwhile, here, in a bid to clinch it, are the Captain's suggestions on the name front: Boy: 1) Teddy Blair. 2) Lionel Blair (after his uncle). 3) Eric Blair. 4) Medium Blair. 5) Paddington Blair. Girl: 1) Clare Blair. 2) French Blair. 3) Cher Blair. 4) Honey Blair. 5) Margaret Hilda Blair.

CISTERNS! Listen, I know a new arrival concentrates the mind on little economies, but have you seen the Downing Street website? Very worrying, especially when Gordon's been banging on about how well off we are. There's this section entitled Doing Your Bit, which calls upon us to be extremely careful about how much we spend; and reading it, and between the lines, I should say things were pretty dodgy with UK plc. I mean, they're on about putting one of those brick thingies in the cistern again to save water, and the Captain hasn't heard that sort of advice since Sir Edward's three-day week, when that minister bloke wanted us to clean our teeth in the dark. And there's more, read this: "Kettles: if you're making tea for one, use just enough water for your cup of tea ... Check all taps for drips and replace worn-out washers. A dripping tap can waste enough water in a day to run a shower for five minutes." And at work,Tony wants you to, inter alia, "install flow controls in toilets - this is a rapid money saver and is good for the environment." See what I mean? The Captain Says: To the boats!

PORT! And it's a big welcome on board the section of the column devoted to our sponsors, W & J Graham, owned by that friendly and rich Anglo-Portuguese family, the Symingtons. And Mrs Fenton of Hove has a question! "Why," she wants to know, "can I get Symington's Table Creams in chocolate or raspberry at my local Waitrose, but not maple and walnut? Or vanilla, come to that?" And the answer is: "The biscuit Symingtons are nothing to do with us, sadly. But perhaps the Captain will give you a bottle of Graham's Port to help take your mind off it." And the next question comes from a Captain Moonlight of Canary Wharf: "That's all right for Mrs Fenton, but I have almost run out of the free port you sent me. Do you think that a fresh delivery might facilitate a little more swiftness in the repairs to your logo up there?" Next!

MILLENNIUM! Yes, it's more of those special offers marking the main event! And I must say I was rather taken with the reader offer from the Express of a special die-cast official model (scale 1: 90,000) of The Dome. Realistic in every detail, it is beautifully presented on a plinth and is a lasting memento of this historic occasion. Available for just pounds 9.99 (inc p&p), or two for just pounds 17.98. Next, Mr Sheeran of Cheltenham writes to tell me that, in the delightful spa town, packets of six Millennium loo rolls are retailing for the modest sum of pounds 1. Splendid, Mr Sheeran: have a Badge! By the way, I've just looked out of the window here at the Dome by night, and I see that they have still got a little red light shining on the end of each of those long strut thingies that stick out of it. Wake up, there! Don't you have any regard for tradition? Get those dull little jobs changed for multi-coloured fairies now! Just look how nice it would be! Millennium!

RUGBY LEAGUE! Still no reply from the Queen about her favourite all-time rugby league match (see Moonlights passim, she's a bit of a fan, as you might expect); but elsewhere, and, indeed, specially featured in our soaraway sports section, you will now be aware that the Lebanon has a pretty good team. They do. And Mr Gerrard of Huntingdon has suggested that I should organise a charabanc trip to Beirut, with a crate in the back, to take in a match or two. I know Alex Murphy and Colin Welland would be interested, so it's probably just a question of Her Majesty's schedule. Anybody else up for it? Oh, and did you see that Wakefield Trinity have appointed a poet? They have. Louis Kasatkin. He's "applying semiotics to the cultural struggle of northern England". And writing a poem entitled "Ode To A Rugby Ball". Of which this is the opening couplet: "Beneath faded picture-card skies/Uneven lines huddle outside Belle Vue, Headingley, Fartown..." Marvellous. Perhaps you would like to study my helpful picture and have a go? Port? Badge?

MORE!? Yes, that's what the discerning reader cries when he gets to my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany, a veritable feast of this, that and the other in a basket! And, first, I see that the Mayor of Jerusalem, Ehud Olmert, had a bit of a blow when he visited Lord Archer last week and made for a cigar box only to find it was a brassbound version of Kane and Abel. Oh, and there's a message for the person who is sending that message "Ken for Mayor" round the Commons computer system: they're closing in. Next, did you know that, according to a German psychoanalyst, one of the best ways to relieve tension is to laugh heartily at the misfortune of others? Well,I'll go to the foot of our stairs! Next, Next, Mr Hilton of Sawbridgeworth has sent me a card from his Tokyo hotel offering four choices of pillow, including ones filled with compressed buckwheat husks. Should he get port, or is he just showing off? Phone in your verdict now! Stop press: a reply from a lady- in-waiting to the Queen! And (I paraphrase) it seems unlikely that Her Majesty will be coming with us to Beirut. Pity. Showbiz round-up: Chuckle Brothers at the Bradford Alhambra in Dick Whittington, Prince Edward interviewing Johnny Depp, a Sir Les Patterson lookalike opening next week's St Barnabas Church Christmas Fair at the Millennium (!) Hall, Ealing, while in Cairo, Ramadan Qibt, 23, entertainer, opened fire and shot six guests at a wedding after they complained about his singing. And this week's leaf from the Captain's Commonplace Book is in honour of the return of Miss World and features the great Julia Morley herself: "Miss World is still popular even though it has its fair share of knockers". Bye! GIFT: A large piece of installation art delivered to the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, at Chequers yesterday. Conceived and created in used chocolate sponge by controversial "Britartist" Sid Bed, it was specially commissioned by the Family Planning Association. No? All right, it's a new piece of sculpture just installed outside Millbank, the London headquarters of the Labour Party, for some reason. Sorry? It would make a good logo for the Captain? Thank you. Actually, it's anti-gun propaganda in Cape Town. It is. AP