Sunday, 19 October 2014

Past and Present

Arnside, on the Kent Estuary

"As part of every school holiday, my family would make a trip to a village on the Cumbrian coast called Arnside.

Positioned where Morecambe Bay begins to become the River Kent, the village has two daily tides: one of water which sweeps across the sands behind a tidal bore, and a second of daytrippers which by mid-morning has filled the thirty or so car parking places on the promenade.  

I can remember being part of that second tide and how our day would always follow a set routine: arrive early to grab a slot with a bay view, take a clingfilm-wrapped picnic up Arnside Knott and then, if the sun shone, eat an ice-cream on the stone jetty. 

If all went to plan, and it typically did, we would be on our way home in time to miss Preston rush hour."


This month, I've written an article in Picture Postcard Monthly. Ahead of my book coming out in a few weeks, it's an account of how I came across the first Edwardian postcard I bought for its message.

As I've mentioned here before, I found it ten years ago in 'Past and Present', a small bric-a-brac shop in Cumbria. To some extent, I suspect,  all the other cards I've bought since have been attempts to replay, to repeat, to remember the 'hit' of finding that initial card. 

Past and Present, on the Promenade at Arnside

Looking out from Past and Present

It's not just the possibility of finding other interesting cards that has proved so alluring, however. Understanding the nature of collecting has been equally compelling. 

I admit collecting has been a refuge at times, an escape from reality. But also - indeed simultaneously - it's been a welcome spur for re-imagining, for changing the way I see the Past and Present (and Future). 

The adventure continues to connect histories, and times. And most enjoyably, it necessitates reaching out to others.


"...as well as being drawn into life in Edwardian Britain, it’s been just as fascinating being drawn into postcard collecting itself, both then and now. 

Discovering the stories of collectors and dealers who’ve helped me along the way has been wonderful...  

like Pauline Harrison who recently found a picture of her grandfather on a postcard at her local fair;

Peter Cove and his tactical brilliance in tracking down a copy of every card by artist AR Quinton;

and Mavis McHugh who once sold a card which carried a 1,000-word message. "