Weirder and Weirder

I was in Norway recently and was amused by a set of three self-adhesive stamps issued there in June, the second in an annual series devoted to local handicrafts.

According to the press release accompanying this issue the subject of the 5.50kr stamp is crochet. That may well be the case, but what we have is the world’s first stamp to illustrate th dolly which, in many households, conceals the spare toilet roll on top of the cistern! One of the interminable Millenium issues from a country in the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation group featured avant-garde art of the 20th century and included in the line up was a piece of sculpture in the form of a low-flush toilet. I understand that Royal Mail almost released a stamp in 1999 withthe same object, but chickened out at the last minute and substituted a tap, to symbolise water as essential to health and hygiene.

Where two or three are gathered together you have the makings of a thematic collection. So we have the toilet and the toilet-roll holder, but there is an oddity from the Spanish post office in Andorra that fits neatly into this theme. According to the Gibbons catalogue, the Christmas 32p stamp of 1997 (SG256) depicts a Catalan crib figure, but if it is associated with the Nativity then it is a very strange subject indeed, for it shows a little man squatting down with his braces dangling. A clue to his identity is provided by the inscription TIO CAGANER tucked away tucked away in the bottom margin. Initially I thought that this was the name of the stamp designer, until I read the press notice which informed me that Uncle Sh***y is a popular good-luck symbol in the Pyrenees, rather like the Cornish piskie.

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