Joining Tom Jackson to discuss the postcards from their
pasts are stand-up classicist and novelist NATALIE HAYNES (Amber Fury, The Children of Jocasta, A Thousand Ships) and shorthand expert KATHRYN BAIRD. We explore secret liaisons, Greek temples, waiting for war, Edwardian glamour and Pompeii. Along the way we
consider the joy of Belgian biscuits, the dangers of reading too much and shorthand pens. Wish you were here?
Greetings From The Isle of Man multiview, 1988. “Most of my holiday I have been ill. I went down to the riding stables and fainted and was sick.”
The Cobbler and Loch Long, 1976. “I’m very glad that you’re not here because you’re such a pain when you are around.”
Kathryn’s card of Hubberholme Church, near Buckden, Yorkshire, sent in 1905. When Kathryn bought this postcard – because of the shorthand message – it set her on a path of deciphering old postcards and diaries.”I am writing this in shorthand, because they always read what is on postcards at the post office here.”
Tidworth camp, Wiltshire, 1917. A shorthand card from Kathryn’s collection…
On the reverse of the 1917 Tidworth card: “Dear Father, from your son Glen We have no definite word as yet as to when we go off but i think it will be some day next week. I’m getting fit and well and getting on very well as a corporal. They seem very decent fellows here and I have made quite a number of friends, who are quite enthusiastic at my promotion, especially a fellow from Didcot. We have several picture houses here and a theatre, which helps to make things very lively.”
Natalie’s card of the temple of Poseidon at Paestum, southern Italy, a memory of “one of the most extraordinary days of my life.”
A postcard from the British Museum Pompeii exhibition. Natalie arrived two hours early to the exhibition due to temporary Booker-prize-judge stress and timelessness. A dog frozen in time by the pyroclastic surge.
Also from the same exhibition, a Pompeiian baker and his wife. She is holding a wax tablet, which, it could be argued, is a very early antecedent of the postcard.
The harbour at Clovelly, July 1916: a live shorthand test for Kathryn, which of course she passed with flying colours.
It transcribes as, “Dear Gladys, Just a line to say I shall be down tomorrow evening, all being well, by the 7 train. I shall have the large photo with me, I hope. Do you like this picture? I know you can’t read this and expect I shall drop in for it tomorrow when I see you. Best love, Arthur.”
Kathryn’s shorthand postcard of Corporation Street, Birmingham, 1916, addressed to a Miss Drake.
The message on the reverse – written in very poor shorthand – reads: “Dear Miss Drake, Excuse writing shorthand, but I think it is best. I have sent letters to make arrangements for Saturday, and will let you know. There is someone here very much like you, that is with the same kind of features. You did not keep your appointment this morning. Yours, Will Penny Excuse rotten script.”
Marie Studholme, the Edwardian Kim Kardashian in 1904, kind of, on one of Kathryn’s postcards. On the front of the card, is a message: “I think this is the position you said you would like. Is it?”
The reverse of Marie reads, in beautiful shorthand: “My dear little sweetheart, I hope you will like this one. Last week, this time, I had the great pleasure of taking you to Ottery. What a difference now! I trust that my dear little girl is keeping quite well and that you will not keep me too long without a nice letter. With much love and heaps of kisses, Bert.”
Natalie’s postcard of Bruges, 1914/15, part of a joblot of Belgian postcards that a friend bought her. It evokes happy memories of childhood visits to Belgium to visit relatives and eat biscuits.
Bournemouth, 1968. “Hotel nice with good food. We went for a drive this afternoon & landed up in the middle of an army firing range.”
A singing postcard from Campania.
SOPHIA MONEY-COUTTS & KEIRON PIM – The Weirdest Hangover Of My Life
SUKH OJLA & MAREK LARWOOD – Never Go In The Gift Shop First