My sure-fire tips for beefing up the lottery

CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT

Share
Related Topics
WHOA! Great to have you on board again! Today, with your permission, I would like to offer a little advice to those nice lottery people at Camelot, who do so much good and spread so much happiness for such comparatively little reward. It seems, though, that things are getting a little tough, sales down by 6 per cent to a disappointing pounds 5.2bn. I reckon it's the prizes. Money is so unimaginative, isn't it? Here are some alternatives that would really get things zinging: 1) A spread in Hello! magazine. Who hasn't dreamt of being pictured in their home and baring their soul in handy question and answer format alongside the likes of the Nolan Sisters, interesting minor Middle Eastern royalty and Dame Thora Hird? Exactly. Sorry? Good grief. I've just been informed that they pay you to appear, so that's out. OK, how about 2) A luxury Aegean cruise with, lecturing, Sir Stephen Runciman, Sir Roy Strong, A S Byatt and Prof George Steiner. Fellow cruisers will include Paul Gazza Gascoigne, the Gallagher brothers, and Mr and Mrs James Major and Terry. 3) A week shadowing Dr Jack Cunningham, the Cabinet "enforcer". Both instructive and very exciting, as you cannot be sure where you might end up! (Concorde trip guaranteed, though, plus some excellent fishing.) 4) Director Generalship of the BBC. No, it's a great job. Just think of all the people you will get to meet! 5) Moonlight Badge. Very stylish, and proof, in handsome black and silver-effect enamel, that you just can't buy class, cachet, and incredible demand. Next!

BBRRNNGG! Ah, the familiar jangle, pregnant with information potential; yes, it's my showbiz correspondent, Ms Britt Bafter, "ringing in" with this week's items. "Busy, busy week, Captain! Spotted, for example, in the National Theatre's Terrace Cafe: lovely Derek Benfield, who used to play the loveable rough diamond in that excellent Seventies BBC serial The Brothers, and now plays the loveable downtrodden husband to Patty Routledge's Hetty Wainthrop in the popular BBC series of the same name! Then there's Lionel Blair, Captain. He's been giving his cure for leg ache: apparently, you take an empty milk bottle and roll it up and down on the floor with the soles of your feet. Did you know, too, that, apart from one crown, Lionel still has all his teeth, even if he does give his age now as '49 plus VAT'?" Remarkable. I ask Ms Bafter if there is any news of Lionel's dog, Eric, who I have long believed, possibly erroneously, to be named in tribute to the old dancer's famous namesake, George Orwell. Ms Bafter tells me that, sadly, Eric has passed on. She has better news, though, of both Hugh Grant and Elvis Presley. "Yes, apparently Hugh uses moisturiser twice a day for his dry skin. And a library card signed by Elvis when he was 12 has just been discovered. Did you know, too, Captain, that Elvis used to refer to his manhood as 'Little Elvis'?" I replace the receiver, a little awed but confident, also, that this column's showbiz coverage is unrivalled. Next!

PHWOAR! Ah, yes, you've noticed the tasteful pose, with only fine words to preserve an officer's modesty. And you are, of course, wondering what the old fool is up to now. No, it is not a cheap bid to titillate the readership and put on massive sales. Today, I will have you know, is World Naturist Day; it seemed only polite. And, please, no trying to see through Mr Watkins on the previous page. I do hope the weather picks up a bit, though.

POLTROONS. Incompetent. Disappointing. The Captain is aware that certain misgivings are being expressed about the quality of the present House of Commons. I must say that I myself, an experienced political observer, have not noticed much difference from the last lot, or the lot before that, etc. But, even so, I was a little taken aback last week, during the recess, to observe a bottle of milk standing neglected all day outside the Members' Entrance. I mean, really, if they can't even remember to cancel the milk, what hope is there? Perhaps they were waiting for a message on their pagers. Still, I didn't know that Betty only allows them one bottle between 658, did you?

BBRRNNGG! The telephone, again, and, on it, my doyen of diplomatic correspondents, Norman Channels, no doubt with the latest inside griff on the frantic machinations in the Balkans. "Captain, I've just had a most interesting chat with the Norwegian ambassador! He told me that, in his view, it was pretty pointless visiting Stornoway on a Sunday, as most of it is closed." I thank Norman for this, and promise to pass the tip on. Next!

LYRICAL. That is the only way to describe the reaction of the judges as they journeyed gaily through your entries to my poetry competition, the one inspired by the new poet laureate, in which you were challenged to pen four lines on the subject of "Where I Live", the winners to be rewarded by - their choice - either a book of Prof Motion's work or one of my splendid Moonlight Badges. Well. Thank you, Mrs Olsen: "Whitley Bay is where/I stay/It's by the sea/Which is nice for me." Badge! And Mr Hollington: "Southend-on-Sea/With its pier and golden mile/Does for me/As my domicile." Terrific! Badge! And Mr Tomalin: "Here at Aldeburgh, as everyone knows/The daffodils dip, when the Easterly blows./'Cos there's only Moot Hall/'Twixt us and the Ural". Very good, Mr Tomalin, although there was some pretty fierce discussion about "hall" and "Ural". Badge! But the overall winner, breaking the pattern of strong coastal contenders, has to be Ms Brown: "I live in Palmer's Green/It's not rich in mystique or myth/Yet here in N13/Lived the poet, Stevie Smith." Splendid, and clinched by the postcard on which it was submitted, over there, showing a moving and completely irrelevant view of the Lea Valley Viaduct. Oh, and Mr Wright: your poem about the Wirral was very good; its failure to convince the judges completely has absolutely nothing at all to do with your slightly puzzling preference for Prof Motion's poems over a splendid Moonlight Badge. Next!

BBRRNNGG! And this time, it's my redoubtable political corrrespondent, Ms Una Tributable. "Captain! Charles Kennedy, cuddly contender for the Lib Dem leadership: a slight quandary. He's found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with - lovely girl, works for Camelot - but he's not quite sure about his timing: should he go for a snap hitch now, to give his leadership chances a lift, or should he gamble, play the long game, and tie the old knot just before the next general election to give the Lib Dem campaign a boost? Tough call, Captain. What do you think?" I tell Ms Tributable that it sounds like a bit of a lottery to me, but I'm sure love will find a way. Next!

LOOK, let's do something about this. Last week I had to point out that some Euro junket had listed William Hague at 28 out of 33 on its VIP guest list, in between the leaders of Malta and Estonia. Now this week I see that the Daily Mail, no less, has listed him at 26 out of 41 on its list of VIPs supporting anonymity for the Bloody Sunday paratroopers at the new inquiry, just 17 places below Dame Vera Lynn. Enough. Let's get Willie to the top of these lists! I note that the all-conquering Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari - that's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it? - has a sausage named after him. Perhaps that's the way to heighten the Hague profile. Hmmm. An egg?

CRIPES! Yes, it's my acclaimed Moonlight Miscellany, a magical melange of mirth, musing and mystification. And did you know that the first time Gyles Brandreth met Edward Heath he threw up? Sorry? Ah, yes, good question. Gyles threw up. Next, rugby league. And, perusing the birthday list in last Saturday's Independent, I was delighted to discover that the full name of the Wigan and Great Britain captain, Andy Farrell, is, in fact, Anstruther Farrell. Splendid! Sadly, it turned out to be one of those misprints unavoidable in even the most scrupulous of publications. But I'd think about adopting it, Andy: this could be just the boost the Greatest Game needs in its drive to recruit upper-middle-class support! Next, Captain's Competition, Badges available: the two phrases most common among mobile phone users, please, after "I'm on the train". Commiserations, next, to the two armed raiders who chose to hold up a bar in Alabama the night it had been hired by the local gun club. Both died in a hail of bullets. Congratulations, though, to Mrs McAlister of Cork, who Writes To The Captain to tell me that, although she lives about four miles from Blarney Castle, she has never visited it. Badge! And, no, I have still not heard from the Marquess of Cholmondeley. Bye!

DO US a favour, mate: didn't you have a picture of somebody pointing something out to the Duke of Edinburgh last week? Yes, but that was in Wales and I had him going on about the Welsh so convincingly that a Welsh lady living in Hastings ("for my sins!") rang to complain. Captain culpa, mea maxima. So let's avoid controversy and concentrate on what's happened to the Prince of Wales (right, front). Did you know eating soya could do that? Actually, it's a sculpture of a dung beetle at London Zoo's new biodiversity centre, just opened by the Duke, an apt choice, and His Wife, ER Indoors and Out. J STILWELL/REUTERS

e-mail thingie: moonlight@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: Cameron's unexpected tax pledges give the Tories home advantage

Andrew Grice
President Barack Obama walks with U.S. Secret Service agents to Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Calif., May 8, 2014.  

Obama's Secret Service has become sloppy with its delusions of Hollywood grandeur

David Usborne
Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence