wordly images

postcards – from the edges of another place and time(?)

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on May 25, 2010

Chichen Itza, MexicoImage: Jones-2009, Chichen Itza, Mexico

I was reading an interesting article recently by a travel writer (Guy Trebay) who still sends postcards from wherever he travels to. I say ‘still’ because it does seem as if the action of putting pen to paper (or card) and writing ‘wish you were here’ is a thing of the past for the majority of us. What with the advent of the electronic postcards – i.e. Twitter, Facebook, iPhones – snail mail seems far too….well, slow. Not only from sticking the postcard in the box and then its journey from the senders location to the recipients location (and depending where you are in the world, you could get back before your postcard even arrives!), but also the physical effort that one has to put in to find the appropriate card and then wrack your brains to find a witty way to compress your travel stories, onto a tiny 3 1/2 x 5″area;  aside from the cliched ‘wish you were here’ or ‘wish you weren’t here’. And, don’t forget you have to buy the stamp and stick it on too!

On the whole we seem happy to have shrunk our worlds into the electronic medium of (often round-robin because it saves time) communication and, hey, I am more than guilty of taking the easy option of late. There was a time that I wouldn’t even think twice about sending a postcard whilst on my travels – if only to my dad to stick on his fridge. However, it seems such a shame that we don’t take the time to hunt out interesting, quirky, or cliched postcards;  especially looking for just the right card for i.e. your best mate, the one that only they would get the joke or the nuance of that particular card.

As Mr Trebay so succinctly put it ‘Historians of Facebook and Twitter will be left to scrounge around the internet for the fugitive relics of the present communication age’. Not for them the scene upon scene of diverse wonders of far off places – the sun set over the costa del sol, camels posing in front of the pyramids, African drummers on a beach or, god forbid, those ‘naughty’ 70’s cartoon postcards, depicting two old men sitting on their striped deck chairs, eyes popping out of their heads as two young, comically-endowed busty, blonds (as they seemed to have more fun – allegedly!) walk past in itsy-bitsy bikini’s; with some lewd comment written underneath a la: “eeeh, Stan, you don’t get many of those to the pound these days!”

Lets not deprive ourselves of this ancient(ish) ritual (apparently, the first souvenir postcard was printed in 1893 in the US) , nor the pleasure of our friends or family picking up their post, shuffling through the usual generic brown or white-enveloped bills, boring circulars etc, only to come across a flash of colour in the midst of it all and with a personalised note, just for them, written in ink on the back to-boot.

How refreshingly old-fashioned, I say.

HJ – May 25th 2010, NYC

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