Reading List

Saturday 4 September 2010

Grassroots history

A lot of grassroots history is like the trace of the ancient plough. It might seem gone for good with the men who ploughed the field many centuries ago. But every aerial photographer knows that, in a certain light, and seen at a certain angle, the shadows of long-forgotten ridge and furrow can still be seen.
Eric Hobsbawm, "History from below"
Hobsbawm's notion of grassroots history fits well with old postcard messages.

I hope by picking out cards for their messages, we're doing our bit to discover long-forgotten ridges and furrows of ordinary life.

I bought this card last week at the Bloomsbury postcard fair in London. It shows how even the simplest message can transport you into a strangely unfamiliar world.

While the basics of humour don't change, targets do. Would it be acceptable now to poke fun at teetotallers, however gently? And I'd never heard of teetotallers referred to as totes before? Had you?


  1. I hadn't heard the totes expression. Is the term teetotaller even used anymore? Collee campuses sometimes advertise 'alcohol-free' event - at least in the USA.

  2. Lot's of interesting posts on PFF today. I hadn't heard totes either. Happy Friday!

  3. Great card. Funny and beautifully drawn, and I dont like organized totes very much either.

  4. The illustration has a modern feel about it, a little like one of those Wales in summer postcards.

  5. I never heard of totes either. I'm not sure I understand the humor, but it makes me think of "Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink."

  6. Great post card. Never heard of Totes before and I love Postcardy's thought on Water. Thanks for sharing

  7. Funny thing--I thought Totes meant a bag or suitcase! Perhaps that is a newer meaning to the word!

    LOVE the postcard! I like your curiosity about the past and our history.

    Happy PFF!