Around this time of year, when I was growing up in London in the 60s and 70s, I’d anticipate copious amounts of postcards from friends and relatives arriving showing pictures of a place within the town they were staying where they’d never visit, but locally it was iconic, and/or telling me they wished I was there (which begs the question: why wasn’t I invited in the first place?)
Cards would come from far-reaching places such as Bognor, Bournemouth, Bideford – having been brought up in Balham it seemed that my friends and relatives were incapable of travelling anywhere which didn’t begin with a “B”. (These days people will travel to Belize, Bolivia, Bogota – nice, but do they do a nice cream tea there?)
No one sends postcards anymore; instead of “wish you were here” on the back of a card featuring a beach, historical monument or a cartoon of a large-breasted woman berating her diminutive husband with an innuendo like “why can’t your sand castle be that big?” you get a text or an email which says: “arrived safely”, swiftly followed by over a hundred Instagram photos of the baggage retrieval area of some distant airport and bemoaning the fact that why is it so few people speak English in the Belgian Congo?
One of the last postcards I sent was in 1973, around this time of year, wishing that my mum and dad were here and hoping I’d done well in my O-levels. I hadn’t; the punishment being the next year with two weeks in Benidorm – also beginning with B – like Bubonica Pestis (a little-known Greek island).