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Looking for a sensible woman

'SUN, sea, sand, sharks. Castaway anti-hero Gerald Kingsland seeks healthy female companion to revisit tropical islands, sailing December. Year away.' This surprising notice in the classified section of the Hereford Times may be not be the most romantic way to find a partner, but it works for Gerald Kingsland. You may remember the last time he advertised for a wife to share a desert island. He got Lucy Irvine. According to her own account of the year, in the book Castaway (which later became a Nicholas Roeg film starring Oliver Reed and Amanda Donohoe), they had a pretty miserable time - constantly battling, occasionally retreating to opposite ends of the island and, at one point, nearly dying. The response to Kingsland's latest offer has been, well, disappointing. 'It's been in for three consecutive weeks and there hasn't been a single reply,' he tells us. Are Irvine's grim tales a deterrent? 'Could well be: the film really was a bit damning, wasn't it? Especially getting Oliver Reed to play me. But the method has worked: I had two other girls before Lucy, she was number three. I had a very nice one on Cocos and a lovely young thing on Robinson Crusoe Island. I would like a sensible woman. I'm looking for a permanent relationship - you don't want someone who will drop out halfway round.' Absolutely not.

HE'S an odd chap, Johnny Foreigner. Different ways from us. Appreciating this, the Whetstone School of English in north London hands a checklist of local customs to new students. 'In Britain,' it says sternly, 'stealing from shops is a crime. It is called shop-lifting.' That should set them straight.

Academic Test

HOW did the Pakistani bowlers Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis produce the miraculous reverse swing that devastated England's batting this summer? Even the England manager, Micky Stewart, drew a diplomatic blank. But yesterday two lecturers from the University of Hertfordshire (Hatfield Poly) announced they would be giving an aerospace engineering student the thrilling (if you like cricket) year-long task of establishing why a ball bowled to go one way promptly shoots off the other. Cricket balls displaying varying states of wear will be mounted in a wind tunnel at different speeds. 'A cricket ball experiences drag,' explains one of the lecturers, Andrew Lewis. 'We will be looking for any small lateral forces which would make it swing.' But will the results settle the dispute? 'It will be one of those things where if you don't see anything happen, you won't necessarily prove too much,' he tells us. Does that mean 'no'?

A SLIGHTLY dog-eared envelope arrives from the publishers HarperCollins, imprinted with a demand that we patronise the 'Collins Back to School range'. But inside is a leaflet of a naked couple (clearly giving each other a spot of financial advice) as an enticement to order a video of the Kama Sutra, 'the sex manual of all time'. That's the reading, writing, 'rithmetic and rutting back-to-school range.

Wapping great office

BROWS are knitted in the lonely shed at the far end of Fortress Wapping that is home to the Times, an august newspaper. Staff ponder the meaning of the opulent new office that the editor-eject (the one on the way out, Simon Jenkins), is building for himself on the building's executive floor, otherwise known as the Ivory Tower. This is greatly discommoding all the other important people up there who've had to make room for the new columnist: the new office (to be known henceforth as the Jenkins Memorial Suite) is twice the size of Bernard Levin's next door. And does the editor-elect, Peter Stothard, know of and approve Jenkins's plans to be there breathing down his neck (and attending editorial conferences) when he takes over in October? 'It's a bit like Thatcher sitting in on Major's Cabinet,' says our concerned source.

COMING to the Workers' Revolutionary Party rally at London's Conway Hall this Sunday? We'll be marking 52 years of Trotsky being dead and we'll be calling for World Socialist Revolution and a general strike to kick the Tories out. Just like the good old days.


21 August 1914 Richard Harding Davis in Brussels records the German invasion: 'The three soldiers who led the army bicycled into the Boulevard du Regent and asked the way to the Gare du Nord. When they passed the human note passed with them. What came after them, and 24 hours later is still coming, is not men marching, but a force of nature like a tidal wave, an avalanche or a river flooding its banks. At the sight of the first few regiments of the enemy, we were thrilled with interest. After for three hours they had passed in one unbroken steel-grey column we were bored. But when hour after hour passed and there was no halt, no breathing-time, no open space in the ranks, it became uncanny, inhuman. You returned to watch it, fascinated. It held the mystery and menace of fog rolling toward you across the sea.'