Reading List

Sunday 22 August 2010

Instant Postcard Messaging

About a year ago I bought a new mobile phone - one of those fancy ones with a built-in camera. 

It is great. 

I love being able to send images to people and get instant reactions. I'll take a photo of some new glasses I've bought, say, and then send it to my mum. Within a minute she's texted back her thoughts.

How modern you think - how advanced we are. Well not exactly. Those bloomin' Edwardians were there first I'm afraid.

Take the pair of messages above. Gaddesden Place catches fire on 1 February 1905. Already by 18 February, our postcarder has a choice of cards to send showing what happened.

And that he/she decided to send two allows us to enjoy something unique.

Different cards sent on the same day, to the same address, to two brothers (?) about the same fire. This is the collecting triumph I referred to last week. By having both messages, the fire and the sending of the cards seem to become 3D.


PS My mum thought I was trying to look like Woody Allen. So cruel! Yet probably fair.

Sunday 8 August 2010

Splitting a pair

When you’re next in a bookstore look out for Bruce Chatwin’s novel Utz. For collectors amongst us, it’s a compelling read as much of the story centres on what it is to be a collector.

I really like how the porcelain-obsessed Kaspar Utz sums up the experience of being a collector: 
“As a young child will reach out to handle the things it names, so the passionate collector, his eye in harmony with his hand, restores to the object the life-giving touch of its maker.”
Now, being the purveyor of ‘life-giving’ touches is quite a responsibility. And one that has its downsides. 

When I bought this card to Miss Gertrud, alongside it sat another also addressed to her. It used the same hieroglyphic-like code, and was clearly part of the same 100 year-old conversation. But, for reasons of me feeling a bit tight, I didn’t buy it. 

Ouch! I regret it.

Whenever I hold the card I always relive the moment I separated it from its sibling. Rather than giving it life, I know I took something from it.

But you learn from your mistakes. And I have made amends for this episode. Next week I will explain more. In fact, it is a collecting triumph that, to quote the lovely Beth, will fill your eyes with joy. Kaspar would be proud.