A stamping ground where Britain cannot be licked

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The Independent Online
BRITISH design is renowned throughout the world for the high standard and ingenuity of our commemorative postage stamp pictorial design, so in order that you should not miss any of the high-class issues that are coming up this year, I have decided to print a full list today of the main commemorative issues that are planned to be in production during 1994.

14 February: St Valentine's Day Issue. 19p: 'Two young men holding hands, a smiling Edwina Currie in background, holding up her novel with title quite clearly visible'; 25p: 'Rodin's 'The Kiss', obscured by furious shape of Mary Whitehouse'; 35p: 'Cupid being led away by police on charges of possessing an offensive weapon'; and 41p: 'PO box number to write to for booklet on Safe Sex'. (The Royal Mail people had quite wanted one of the stamps to feature St Valentine himself, but when they found what a gruesome end he had met and how much like an Amnesty victim he was, they decided against it on grounds of taste. However, a special postmark is being issued for the stamps. 'Go on, send two Valentines this year and maximise our profits'.)

1 March: St David's Day, Special Welsh Issue. 19p: 'Severn Bridge closed during high winds'; 25p: 'Welsh Free Army knife, incorporating stick of dynamite, black paint spray and a thing for getting stones into English horses' hoofs'; 35p: 'English second home in Cardiganshire'; 41p: 'Neil Jenkins's boot'. All of these stamps will be bilingual.

31 March: Bicentenary of the

Invention of the Sidewalk. 19p: 'Ceiling of Sistine Chapel, done in chalk by pavement artist'; 25p: 'Children playing hopscotch on ceiling of Sistine Chapel, done in chalk on pavement'. 35p: 'Dog fouling pavement, where children have just been playing hopscotch on ceiling of Sistine Chapel . . .'; 41p: 'Director of Public Prosecutions caught kerb-crawling (restaged by genuine actors)'.

20 April: Duke of York Photographic Issue. Recent pictures by perhaps the finest royal photographer of this generation. 19p: 'Bit of sky somewhere in Scotland, seen from a helicopter'; 25p: 'Shot of photographers trying to take photograph of one through a car window'; 35p: 'Mum'; 41p: 'Interior of pharmacist's shop, taken accidentally while changing batteries in camera'.

13 May: 'Maxwell the Musical', Commemorative Issue. Four values, each for a different song from the show. 19p: 'Mirror, mirror, on the wall'; 25p: 'That's no earthquake, that's Bob Maxwell'; 35p: 'I'm going overboard for you'; 41p: 'My name's Ian, and this is Kevin, your money's not here, it's gone to heaven'.

1 July: A Special Take-Your Mind-Off-the-World-Cup Issue. 19p: 'General view of San Marino'; 25p: 'Historical decision of Football Association to change the design of the England shirt every time the international team loses'; 35p: 'Incident from England's defeat by the United States of America in World Cup Finals, 1950'; 41p: 'English spectator trying to find television channel not showing current World Cup Finals'.

4 August: Great Miscarriages of British Justice of Our Time. (This issue withdrawn on government orders, 15 August.)

Special Summertime Crop Circle Pictorial. There are four values, each one showing the same apparently normal cornfield from the air, but as the values go up you gradually see a clear crop circle emerging.

'It was quite uncanny,' says a Royal Mail spokesman. 'The circle actually formed as we were taking the photographs from the air. These are the first and only pictures known to be taken of a crop circle as it spontaneously formed . . .

'Yes, we were in a helicopter, as a matter of fact. Yes, we were hovering quite low over the ground, since you ask . . .

'What? Oh, you think the down-draught might have helped to create the pattern . . ?

'Ah. We hadn't thought of that.'

1 September: Centenary of the First London Minicab. 19p: 'Victorian horse and carriage from 1894, Marked 'Ron's Mini- Coaches of Tooting - our motto is, if you know where you're going we'll get you there - or somewhere very much like it' '; 25p: 'Minicab on the way from Battersea to King's Cross lost in the Romney Marshes; oil painting'; 35p: 'Mini-cab commandeered by the Army during war: driver hopelessly lost in blackout'; 41p: 'Copy of old Cockney song: 'By day I am a plasterer, and a mini-cab driver at night / So it's no surprise if I close my eyes and drive with them both shut tight'.

I hope to complete this full commemorative list for 1994 when space permits.