The holidays are over, but here are some really interesting postcards

CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT
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The Independent Online
THAT'S IT, then. Summer's lease falls in and nothing is left but memories. Well, to be precise, nothing is left but memories and Captain Moonlight's Great Summer Postcard Exhibition. Look above and marvel at its final flourish, a vivid demonstration of the doggedness of dedicated lensmen for whom no task, no matter how initially unpromising, is too daunting. You don't catch the light on the subway in Oldham just by popping off a couple of frames. It must have been tempting, too, to water down the impact of that caravan site by putting something interesting in the foreground; but it's right somehow, just as, conversely and perhaps ironically, it's right to put the pensioners in the foreground of the moving "Old People's Home in Salamanca". And who could resist the honesty which confronts the butch brutalism of the Hotel Skoda in Pilsen? I love, too, the uncompromising, in-your-face treatment of Blackheath sewage works in Dorset; did you know, by the way, that Dorset has 353 sewage plants? Well done, everyone! Bottles to Mr Haran of Leyton, Mr Douch of Wellingborough, Mr Hodges from Suffolk, Ms Sutcliffe of Tooting, and Mr Carr of Bristol. And another to Mr Bennett of Golders Green, who explained with elegance and evidence what last week's strange card was all about. But it's a bit complicated, so if you want to know, ring me up. Next!

n HOW do you know when the silly season is over? You know the silly season is over when someone (thank you Ms Ysenda Shorte-Circular, my royal correspondent) rings you up with an outrageous story about Baroness Thatcher. I mean, can you believe that there's a row going on about where the Baroness's knight of the garter banner is going to go in St George's Chapel, Windsor? Some guff about precedence and not putting it too close to the Queen. Honestly. But I didn't know her Garter means we can now call her Lady Margaret Thatcher, did you? Makes her sound like an Oxford college.

NEXT, intelligence from Leicester (no jokes, please, the editor of this newspaper, a fine man, is from Leicester). Mr Alan Rooks, a primary school teacher, writes, concerning last week's front page report about the sale of the Einstein manuscript containing the famous formula, E = MC2. Mr Rooks noticed a crossing-out in the formula, and, in that way of primary school teachers which I'm sure you still remember, wonders why, if Einstein was so clever, he couldn't have written it out neatly. I reckon Mr Rooks is on to something. What Einstein wrote originally in the manuscript was L=MC2, which is a different matter entirely. And obvious: L was clearly lunch and MC2 is what he was going to have, macaroni cheese, his favourite, twice. So: he has a good lunch, comes back, and his eye falls on the earlier doodle. The mighty brain begins to whir, and before you can say Sit Up Straight And Pay Attention, Einstein, he's comes up with the theory of relativity. Amazing!

n BRRRNNGG! It is my political correspondent, Ms Una Tributable, on the telephone, with news of David Marsh, who was Mrs Virginia Bottomley's special adviser at the Department of Health. "He is writing a book, Captain," she tells me. "But first he's going to walk to Istanbul." Why Istanbul, I ask, in my curious way. "Because it's further away from Mrs Virginia Bottomley than Budapest," replies Ms Tributable before ringing off, abruptly.

HEY and gosh, I'm not looking for sympathy, but it's tough being a man. Expectations, stereotyping, pressure to conform: even the Captain is not immune. Which is why I empathise so strongly with Sir Richard Greenbury, the man from Marks and Sparks who produced that report. Look at Sir Richard and you see a man with glasses in a suit. But underneath? Well, Sir Richard is a keen Manchester United fan who goes to lots of matches, and when he does, it transpires, underneath his suit he is wearing a Manchester United strip. He does, he does. I don't think I've told anyone this before, but underneath my suit I wear a Hopalong Cassidy outfit. Perhaps we should come out together, Rich. There was a survey the other day, too, which showed that one in seven men have worn women's underwear. And do you remember David Mellor? Wasn't there something about wearing a Chelsea strip and a leap from the top of the wardrobe? We do have feelings, you see. David, for one, is famously sensitive. He's been offered a part in an opera, you know. I'd certainly pay good money to watch Dave belt out "O Sole Mio", in or out of a Chelsea strip. But when I rang up to offer my congratulations and support, his office was distinctly aloof, claiming the report was completely inaccurate. Then I discovered it was a non-singing part (in Howard Blake's The Station, coming up at the South Bank) so he's probably sulking. Dave, we all have to start somewhere. I'll come, promise.

n NEWS floods into this column from absolutely everywhere. Last week I received communications from Sidmouth, Worthing, Brighton, Bognor Regis, Needham Market, and Ozankoy. Needham Market is in Suffolk. Ozankoy? Well, that's interesting. It's in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. And do you know who owns property in Ozankoy? John Taylor, front-runner for the leadership of the Unionist Party. For some reason, though, John seems rather coy about confessing that he is an MP when he is on his hols there. I can't think why: a lot of people would think northern Cyprus exactly the correct model and parallel for a Unionist Ulster, even if the food is better. Next!

THE Captain is not one for a teddy bear. No, quell your surprise, it's true. I've always been a penguin man. You can say things to a penguin that a bear just wouldn't understand. But I am nothing if not open-minded on stuffed toys, and I've just heard about one that could make me change my mind. It's 16 inches high, it retails at pounds 14.75 and it's called Sleepy Teddy. Sleepy is a bear for the stressed Nineties. Place him on the bed, switch him on and he lies there snoring and sighing, fast asleep. Sleepy, you're my kind of bear.

n WELL, knock me down! Peter Preston, editor-in-chief of the Guardian and a Sunday newspaper whose name escapes me, has become a diarist. In the Sunday newspaper whose name escapes me. Peter, reconsider! It is no life for a sensitive person, this. And you have to wear a top hat and a cape. Actually, now I come to think about it, Peter is not unused to a top hat and a cape, being a very keen amateur magician. Funnily enough, I have a picture of Peter doing one of his tricks, involving a guillotine greased with margarine. If anyone would like to see it, let me know, and I'll print it next week. Bye!

SETTLING in nicely: the first day at a new school is always a little butterfly-making, and it's no different for the new sixth-form intake at St Tarte's, pictured here with the famous Berkshire public school's long-serving headmaster, Ivor Manly-Longings, better-known, of course, by his affectionate nickname, "Educated Ivor". "I like to be the first to welcome new girls to St Tarte's," said Mr Manly-Longings yesterday. "I believe firmly, very firmly, oh, yes, firmly, firmly, in the hands- on approach to headmastering, and I know we are going to get on very well." Pictured with the head are, from left, Shirley Nott, from Hainault, Wanda Farr, of Basildon, Ivy Tremble, of Theydon Bois, and Sally Forth from Buckhurst Hill, all Essex, as it happens. Looking on, extreme right, is Mme Iva Vestov, St Tarte's Russian-born matron. Actually, it's Tinto Brass, director, with some of his stars at the Venice Film Festival.

Photograph: AP

The Captain's catch-up Service

ANOTHER funny old week in the life of this mad, mad world ... Queen Beatrix of Holland adopted three orangutans while visiting a rehabilitation centre in Kalimantan, Indonesia...Olay, a Turkish newspaper based in Gaziantep, is offering a free funeral to anyone who takes out a subscription ... Sometimes it's just not your lucky day. Matthew Collins, a remand prisoner, was knocked out as he fell to the ground while trying to escape from a prison van in Cheltenham, a court heard. Then the van reversed over him ... The management at Greyfriars Kirk House in Edinburgh went on stage and cut off Paul Curran's Hamlet in the last act because he had overrun. Mr Curran said everyone in the audience had been upset, except for a couple of German students "who told me what a surreal and interesting ending it had been" ... Four in five heart attacks during sex involve adulterous couples, according to a French study which also found that adulterous sex puts as much strain on a middle-aged man as running up the stairs of a tower block ... Finally, some users of Prozac and Clomipramine are reporting a spontaneous orgasm every time they yawn, according to the New Scientist. Let's hope they don't get to hear about the Observer, or we'll all be in trouble ...

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