Hexham eccentricities are my favourite flavour of eccentricity. Nostalgia, with a hint of madness, is delicious and the ultimate winter comfort food. I sought warmth away from the icy streets in the fusty, dusty Aladdin's cave of the labyrinthine antique shop today. Warmth was not found (as the variegated clutter unfortunately failed to make the bare brick walls and stone floors toasty) but sociological treats succeeded to wrap me in the heat of secret discovery.
Postcards were on sale for 20p a pop. They were piled up in a box on a shelf, and lurid colours lured me in. Some were stamped and were scrawled over, evidently donated once received by the relatives of travellers. I sifted through the collection, picking out ones that particularly caught my eye. It was only when I was reading them through later, that I realised I had selected three that were addressed to the same person. The Bramwells of The Bungalow. Two of the three were sent by the same sender. Therefore I am granted an insight into a family...
The first is from Amsterdam.
'I'm staying in Amsterdam for the weekend, with Christine, who was at school with Mum. I just suddenly decided yesterday to come, and rang up to ask if it was convenient. Today I've been to the Rifkamuseum with Stephen - it was great. Then we went on to walk around Amsterdam looking at shops, buildings etc. Thank you for the letter, Grandad. I'll write soon. Love Vanessa.'
The next two are written in a more adult, indecipherable script.
This one is from Australia.
'Dear Auntie Evelyn, We are having the usual good time. Visited Cook Town. Had a superb sea-food meal. Oysters, barracuda, prawns, scallops! Mouth watering! Could barely walk away! Then we had an equally superb meal at a German restaurant in Cairns. The flight up to Cook Town was very interesting, flew low over the Great Barrier Reef. Off to Thursday Island & Yorke Island. All love, Barbara xx'
This last one is from India, and dated 4.12.75.
'Dear Auntie Evelyn, Early morning bathers in the Ganges! Saw sunrise over the Ganges, watched the Hindus bathing & taking blessings from priests. (Priests under the umbrellas!) Saw a body being burnt - only saw a foot! & another body waiting in Delhi now. [Squiggles that I can't decipher] city having lots of ice creams! All love, Barbara'
I think I would like to meet this well-travelled Barbara.
Postcards are so much more joyous than texts, so much more heartening than twitter updates. These supposedly outdated means of happy communication may have constraints as to word counts, but pictures can say a thousand words, and handwritten jottings can lift a thousand spirits.