Reading List

Saturday 29 May 2010

Noon. Please. Will meet you.

No time to waste this week. Written as spoken, our sender's in a rush. His (?) words spill out in a garbled order: Time, courtesy, direction. Stamped at an angle. Signed off with initials.

Or maybe not.

Is in fact the delivery deliberately slow and enigmatic? Are the pauses merely for effect, to give the impression of being in complete control. And standing back, the card does seem perfectly balanced - was it even the first attempt at the message?

Saturday 22 May 2010

Touching the swirls

I went to the National Gallery in London on Friday night. Even if you've been before, I really recommend making a special trip for a late opening.

As the crowds thin out, you get a sensation of being somewhere you shouldn't be. And by 9 o'clock you can find yourself completely alone with best of Van Gogh, Vermeer & Co.

I'm often struck by how even the most familiar painting takes on a new life when you see the original. With Van Gogh's Sunflowers, say, those big yellows and oranges become so vibrant, the paint's texture is more pronounced and you find yourself wanting to reach out and touch the swirls.

Now ok there are no Sunflowers in my collection, I know. But there are some cards which are masterpieces in their own way, and I just wonder - is something lost when they are reproduced on the web? Hope not.

If postcards did make their way into a gallery, this week's card would be the star turn. Roped off and possibly with its own room, it is the biggie. Rest assured, I'll be returning to in future weeks.

So, ladies and gents, make sure your coats are safely in the cloakroom. Mobiles/Cellphones are switched off. And you're speaking in your best gallery whisper.

Miss Emerson's fate is at stake...

Saturday 15 May 2010

To plan or cram?

After last week's post I had some correspondence with design guru Stephen Bayley. (Thanks for the card Stephen!) For him, postcards' magic rests in the writerly discipline needed to communicate in such a confined space.

Thinking about it, I reckon there are broadly two camps of postcard writers. Those who embrace Stephen's challenge, standing back to concoct messages with impact. And those who dive straight in and cram as much onto a card as possible.

Typically, it's the planners who conjure up the star messages. But sometimes, the crammers triumph too. Through the intricacy of their efforts, their postcards can assume a beauty which deserves celebrating.

Two cards this week. One from each camp.

PS To have a proper look at the crammed card, click on the image of it above.

PPS Although postcards had been around since 1870 in the UK, it was only in 1902 that the Post Office allowed the address side to include both address and correspondence. Only then was the current challenge set. Postcardese is very grateful.

Friday 7 May 2010

Sex, drugs and stamps

Last week's Independent on Sunday ran an article declaring stamp collecting to be "officially cool". Hurray.

Now let's just ignore the fact the Independent's arbiters of 21st century cool included Freddie Mercury (dead for 20 years), John Lennon (dead for 30 years) and Ronnie Wood (who took up collecting on leaving rehab). Details, details, I know...

Anyway, there was something spot on in the comments of design expert Stephen Bayley.

He reckoned stamps are "minor art forms... soon to be lost. That realisation generates a wish to collect them, to preserve them as part of a disappearing culture."

Does anyone else recognise that psychology of needing to preserve a fading culture?

Enjoy this week's card - the hunt for Miss Glover's fur tippet.

Saturday 1 May 2010

Who were you with...?

Why someone chooses a specific card is always worth a ponder.

Sometimes the card sent must simply have been the nearest thing to hand, but often it is essential to the message.

Take today's card from Doris to the wonderfully named Miss Kitty Carr (who surely went on to become a movie star?)

Holding the card, you can't help but turn it over and over - to find clues linking the gates with the message.

And as a result, questions come quickly to mind - who had Kitty been with? And what was so funny about what happened? Was it a date best forgotten? Or something to do with an embarrassing relative?

Who knows. But worth a daydream.