Postcard From the Past, PostcardFromthePast, podcastfromthepast, Podcast from the Past, Tom Jackson, TomJackson, Twitter

Postcard From the Past, PostcardFromthePast, podcastfromthepast, Podcast from the Past, Tom Jackson, TomJackson, TwitterThe not-too-distant past is a cosy place, even with tales of murderous fowl. “Are under siege by seven savage geese who attack us when we emerge from caravan,” reads one postcard with a picture of a bucolic scene on the front. “Weather good so far.” The Twitter account Postcard From The Past (@PastPostcard) has been delighting its quickly amassed 22,000 followers with glimpses of people’s long-ago holidays. A book based on the account will be published next year.

Tom Jackson, who runs a company that makes TV commercials, set it up nearly six months ago. He had collected postcards as a child but had the idea to put them on Twitter with a snippet from the writer’s message, alongside the postcard’s image. “I began to realise that with a bit of careful selection, these very ordinary cards could have quite weird, wonderful and entertaining messages on them. They are little snapshots of people’s lives – what concerns someone enough to write it down at a cafe table and send it off? Also, I think it’s quite nostalgic – postcards have fallen out of people’s holiday routine to a large extent.”

Jackson has thousands of postcards he is working through, but uses about only one in 20. He started looking at Edwardian postcards but found the writing really difficult to decipher, and they felt historic, not nostalgic. He was more interested in the mass-tourism cards from the 60s, 70s and 80s. The names are of an age, too. There are Barrys and Bernards; Wendys and Sues. A tourist in Teignmouth writes: “Room has bath, shower, telephone, radio, telly, hairdryer & teamaker plus electric clock.”

What common themes emerge? “The weather is an absolute obsession. People often talk about how they’re eating well because the cards come from the time when people didn’t eat out very much, except on holiday.” One postcard, from York, relays the news: “Have had scotch eggs & salad, very nice, and fruit trifle, cup of tea. Very nice chips with the salad.”

Many of the postcards are from camping and caravan holidays, and cars often seem to break down. The other thing he has noticed, says Jackson, “is how cheerful people are. I don’t know if it’s because they’re writing cards to show everyone what a good time they’re having on holiday, but they’ll say something like: ‘It’s pouring with rain but we’re having a great time.’ There’s a lesson to learn about the British character there.”

It’s the mysteries I like. “I do hope you haven’t had any washing go missing,” writes someone on holiday in the Lake District. A recent favourite of Jackson’s read, poetically: “We drive past where I was before” with an image of a volcanic, green landscape. “I don’t quite know what to make of that,” he says. “I think it means driving past somewhere they had stayed before, but it feels like it has a message of life in it.”