Di's story previewed ... Fab Four fables ... skittish Britt lights up


Charles Nevin
Sunday 23 October 2011 00:36

EMBARRASSING, really, but I have another exclusive. Apparently, there's been some fuss about an interview with the Princess of Wales? Well, people at the BBC have been pushing transcripts at me relentlessly, so I thought I should give you a bit of a foretaste. Frankly, it's a bit dull, with the princess showing signs of heavy coaching from her media adviser, the Duchess of York. This is a more lighthearted moment: Martin Bashir (interviewer): "How exactly do you see the future of the monarchy in constitutional terms?" Princess of Wales: "Well, that rather depends on whether there is a gradual, reactive evolution, in the manner prescribed by Burke, or whether, in the classic liberal tradition, new rules are imposed on our present governmental model, a kind of constitutional constructivism if you like. Does one, for example, favour Hayek, with his emphasis on the proper construction of institutions, or Popper, who, of course, argued strongly for the pre-eminence of experiential learning?" And there's plenty more where that came from, I can tell you. I'd go and do something else on Monday night. Personally, I'm torn between the Queen Elizabeth Hall gig by the Klezmatics, the kings of kosher folk-jazz, the dogs at Catford, or my usual session of Argentine tango, at Danceworks, off Oxford Street (see picture of Captain and his lady taken last week). Next!

n BBRRNNGG! My telephone rings, as it will. It is Ms Una Tributable, my political correspondent, with her weekly update on the solecisms in this political thriller on television, The Final Cut. Something about Tory MPs never dressing on the right after lunch, if I follow her. She says she is also very worried about this new political soap, Annie's Bar, starting on Channel 4 next year, the one made by Prince Edward. The political adviser on the series is Michael Brown, member for Brigg and Cleethorpes. "He may be the only declared gay Tory MP, Captain," shouts Ms Tributable, "but I've never seen him in Annie's!" Coincidentally, last week saw the relaunch of a relocated Annie's, whose clientele is confined to MPs and journalists, and where all conversations are, for various reasons, unrepeatable. Annie was the original, pre-war barmaid; today it is run by Elizabeth in succession to David, who would insist on disturbing correspondents as they rested their heads on the bar. I did ask Una who was responsible for the report of the relaunch in the Daily Telegraph, which had Annie returning for the night to pull a pint when Annie is, not to put too fine a point on it, dead; but, in the finest traditions of the lobby, she refused to tell me.

CAPTAIN Moonlight's Interactive Corner. Yes, once again, a very warm welcome to the bit of the column you help to write. Nice to see you, to see you ... And last week I asked you to provide your unique connections with the four lads who shook the world and look set to continue doing so interminably. And Mr Murphy of Chester tells me that his mum used to make jam sandwiches for the young George Harrison. Canon Incledon of Chichester says that the Bishop of Lancaster turned the boys down for a youth club dance in the Wirral when he was a curate there because they wanted too much money. Mr Henon of Devon has a sister who was secretary to someone who once gave Ringo Starr a lift. And Ms McEwan of Gloucester writes to say that she was friends at university with a girl who used to go to school with Paul McCartney's cousin; and that she used to catch a glimpse from her school bus of the house near Henley which she is pretty sure George Harrison had moved into by then. Well done, everyone! Port for Mr Henon and Ms McEwan. Thank you, Mr Murphy, the Canon, and the Bishop, but I think your connections were just a little too untenuous.

n AND moving on now, to the case of Sarah Barnett, who sent me a press release from the Observer about some tedious appointment or other containing an offensively illiterate sentence. Last week I threatened to reveal this travesty unless Ms Barnett sent me a bottle of port. No such bottle has been received. But I am a gent. I have decided to let you decide whether the shame of this woman and her newspaper should be made public. Write to me in envelopes marked "Observer Shame". And the next one, please.

TAKE a lot of flak, our MPs, don't they? Plenty of carping about just how much use they are, the things they're supposed to get up to in their private lives, resentment at any attempt to augment their earnings. But does anybody stop to think where we would be without them? Who exactly, I want to know, would safeguard democracy then? Quite. Let me give you an example from a recent written answer from the acting director of prisons to Martin Redmond, the Labour MP for Don Valley. Mr Redmond had wanted to know "what instructions or guidance have been issued to prison governors since 27 September 1994 concerning the employment of mock attacks by low- flying military jets in an attempt to resolve prison incidents". Cripes! Top Guns Take On Cons! A hot potato, indeed. And how does the acting director respond? "No instructions have been issued with regard to incidents in prisons." Just that. The Captain tries to get in touch with Mr Redmond, a bearded, beer-drinking, Old Labour Yorkshireman. Without success. What has happened to him? Did he know too much? And why, in a previous question, did he want to know what had happened to all the old-style police boxes, like the one used by Dr Who? Martin, call!

n SETTLE DOWN, settle down. The Captain is a man of his word. I told you last week that I was here to lead you merrily into the Christmas season and, by jingo, I will. I told you I would attend, on your behalf, the official switch-on of the Regent Street lights by Rolf Harris, Lionel Blair and Britt Ekland, and, by golly, I did. In fact, I got there early and so can tell you that Lionel Blair arrived at 4.36pm dressed as Buttons on a coach drawn by a small horse, ready to do the deed on Austin Reed's balcony. My position was on the other side of the street. Traffic was not halted, and at 4.44pm a Clapham Omnibus passed carrying a lady oblivious to the excitement reading Andrew Marr's column in the Independent. I spoke to the Berg family from Sweden. Mr and Mrs Berg were in London to visit their daughter Ulrike, who is studying here. But none of them had heard of Rolf Harris or Lionel Blair! Britt Ekland, however, rang a bell (Britt, you might recall, is Swedish). As we awaited switch-on, Rolf kept us entertained with some of his songs, Britt, who is appearing in pantomine as a fairy, waved her wand, and Lionel kept smiling. Rolf's spirited rendition of "Two Little Boys" was interrupted, to some disappointment, by a fire engine answering an emergency. Then they switched the lights on. Afterwards, at a little party inside Austin Reed, I resolved to ask Lionel if there was one thing that, for him, summed up Christmas, but I couldn't find him. Britt, bravely, said it was pantomime in Cardiff. Not long to go now!

HATS a bit of a turn-up! The ever-popular Princess of Wales pictured behind the scenes at The Swish Kebab, Prestatyn's latest luxury takeaway or eat-in venue. The princess, sportingly unconcerned to find the restaurant's owner, Phil Adelphi, wearing an unfortunately but remarkably similar outfit, is preparing to take the first helping of the delicious eastern Mediterranean delicacy out front to the first customer. As can be seen, Mr Adelphi specialises in the long kebab, prepared from the small, angular sheep native to this part of Wales. His kidney doner is also highly regarded. Well, no; actually it's Elizabeth Dawn, who plays Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street, pictured with HRH Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and a 60ft-long Swiss roll at the new Oakdale Bakeries factory in Leeds last week. Makes you think, I should say.

Photograph: PA

The Captain's catch-up Service

A FEW stories you might have missed last week ... Brigitte Bardot may become a nun after having a vision at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi ... Johann Vogelsang, a prisoner in jail in Wiesbaden, has sued prison officials after a warder stepped on and killed his pet cockroach, Pepe ... Workmen putting up Christmas decorations in Cardiff were stuck 30 feet up in the air when thieves switched off the hydraulic platform and stole their wallets from the cabin ... Steve Greenaway, 40, encourages his hens to lay in Newton Abbot by pasting up Spanish holiday brochures in their hut ... Police in Peru have given up a three-year manhunt for suspected murderer Effrain Moya after discovering he was already in prison ... David Myers, of Sydney, killed himself at a meeting of the local Suicide Survivors Club ... Businesses in New Orleans are taking advertising space on headstones in the local cemeteries ... Firemen had to free 12 policemen after they squeezed into a lift at Gravesend police station designed to carry only six ... Gino Camolini, a lawyer involved in a murder trial in Florence, was jailed by the judge for three days after he arrived in court wearing a grass skirt "to cheer everybody up" ...

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