Sunday, 28 March 2010

Where I am being cured...




Where I am being cured...


Last week, I posted a couple of coded messages - the authors of which made you work hard to get anywhere near what was going on. This week, the drama is all too clear.

Consciously or otherwise, Bob simply can't hide his pain at being so far from home.

And for someone who apparently has difficulty communicating, he seems very adept at drawing you into his suffering...

By beginning his message on the front, he forces you to take in the full Gothic horror of Brampton Park - with its twisted chimneys and heavy shadows.

Then, he paces the first sentence to maximise the impact of him being "cured". As the first word on the back of the card, it kind of takes your breath away.

The final blow - that he won't be back till August - makes his jaunty signature appear utterly hollow.

Receiving such a card must have been pretty tough for Janie. Although by choosing to send a card rather than a sealed letter, did Bob have another audience in mind? Did he want others besides Janie to see it? Maybe his parents?

In a twist Daphne du Maurier would be proud of, Brampton Park burned down in 1907. A blaze lasting three days completely gutted the front of the house. I'm thinking Bob wouldn't have been too upset.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Coded love




In her comment last week, About Postcards said she enjoyed cracking coded messages. I love doing this too. In fact, one way or another, all of my favourite cards are written in secret languages.


I'm not sure exactly why this is. But I reckon it's got something to do a concept JJ Abrams (creator of Lost) calls "the mystery box".


When you have a moment, have a look at a seminar Abrams gave on storytelling - link is below. He talks about being drawn to things which have "infinite possibilities" and uses the example of a box of magic tricks he is fascinated by because it's never been opened.


I find postcard messages offer a similar means for firing imaginations. They might be a bit pedestrian, especially compared to special-effect-driven adventures on desert islands, but mysteries are there to be enjoyed.


And with coded messages you get double your intrigue.


The code presents the obvious challenge, working out the words the author wanted to hide from the postman. But even when you've deciphered the message you're still only left with one moment, one piece of a dialogue. The before and the after remain hidden.


So, to this week's cards. I've put two up. The card in block capitals is at the Easy end of the code spectrum.


Brace yourself for the message to Miss Gertrud. It is Super Fiendish and I'm afraid I have no answers. The mystery box it seems remains firmly sealed. Any ideas?


Coded love

In her comment last week, About Postcards said she enjoyed cracking coded messages. I love doing this too. In fact, one way or another, all of my favourite cards are written in secret languages.


I'm not sure exactly why this is. But I reckon it's got something to do a concept JJ Abrams (creator of 'Lost') calls "the mystery box".


When you have a moment, have a look at a seminar Abrams gave on good storytelling - link is below. He talks about being drawn to things which have "infinite possibilities" and uses the example of a box of magic tricks he is fascinated by because it's never been opened.


For me, postcard messages offer a similar means for firing imaginations. They might be a bit pedestrian, especially compared to special-effect-driven adventures on desert islands, but mysteries are there to be enjoyed.


And with coded messages you get double your intrigue.


The code presents the obvious challenge, working out the words the author wanted to hide from the postman. But even when you've deciphered the message you are still only left with one moment, one piece of a dialogue. The before and the after remain hidden.


So, to this week's cards. I've put two up. The card in block capitals is at the Easy end of the code spectrum. If you're struggling there's a clue at www.twitter.com/postcardese.


Brace yourself for the message to Miss Gertrud. It is Super Fiendish and I'm afraid I have no answers. The mystery box it seems remains firmly sealed. Any ideas?




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpjVgF5JDq8

Friday, 19 March 2010

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Dear Mother... we shall be quite alright

Often you find messages only reveal themselves on the second or third reading. This card is a good example.

At first it all seems pretty banal - a son updates his mother on what he'd been up to that day in town.

Sent a year earlier, the card would be of little interest. But once you've clocked the card was sent in September 1914, the card fills with poignancy.

Let's hope George was alright and one day got back to Hardwick Farm 'safetly'.

I promise to make sure next week's card is cheerier! Keen to hear your thoughts on the posts so far...



Monday, 8 March 2010

Don't be frightened to tell me...



Don't be frightened to tell me...

Stresses of exam results could always spoil a holiday.

You can just imagine our heroine doing everything she could to distract herself. In the end though, the temptation to send a card was just too much.

Did she pass? Did she fail? I reckon she aced them.

An addiction

So how does someone become addicted to old postcard messages?

Well, eight years ago I was in a junk shop in the Lake District in North West England. Alongside the cracked pottery and broken VHS players, there was a tray of old postcards. And to my surprise in amongst them I found a couple of my university college. Faded and battered, I thought they were well worth the £1.50 investment.

But it wasn't until I was sipping a cuppa a few hours later I read the backs. The first was illegible. Something about a holiday in Bournemouth. But on the second a girl was arranging to meet a university pal in Clapham in London in 1904. The coincidence being that I now lived in Clapham and regularly made similar arrangements with my uni friends - albeit by text and email. 100 years on and strangely little seemed to have changed.

So, back to the shop I went the next day and trawled through every card. The smudged declarations of love, the coded instructions and the insights into forgotten routines were simply astonishing. And I've been gripped ever since.

I hope you find reading the messages enjoyable.

Please let me know what stories you think lie behind them. And if you have cards yourself send them in and see what everyone else thinks.

Best

Postcardese

PS Follow Postcardese on Twitter for thoughts on collecting postcard messages ... Postcardese to Twitterese in one click.

www.twitter.com/postcardese.