Tuesday, August 09, 2011

If Only They Could Send A Postcard Instead

"What the hell is happening over there?", the Lad asked last night in a phone call from darkest Africa. As we watched the news reports of burning buildings and wide-scale looting in London and some other major British cities, I had to confess I had little or no idea. One could line up all the usual suspects - criminal gangs, social deprivation, hooligans playing copy-cat, the poverty of materialism - and all are found wanting. One can turn on social networking and digital communications, but these are just a means rather than a cause and are only guilty in the way books were guilty for Mein Kampf or railway trains were guilty for the German invasion of Belgium. It would be some comfort if we could blame the long, hot summer nights : but alas they are cool and wet at the moment. Perhaps the alienated young want to make their mark on history, become the subjects of their own tweets Oh, if only they could only send a postcard instead.

Here is a view on London in slightly quieter days (although riots were by no means unknown 100 years ago). The card was sent from Eliza Beanland (my mothers' aunt) to Fowler Beanland. It reads as follows:
Dear Brother,I have been to the station tonight to ask how much your bicycle will be sending and he says it will be three shillings and ninepence under our own risk and five shillings under the company risk, so write and tell me what to do.With love, Eliza
In difficult days such as these, it would appear that everything is under our own risk.




16 comments:

  1. What a great post. Today's riots in London and your postcard create a terrific link in time. Life's inherent risks brought together in your own inimitable way. And one Fowler Beanland to help bring them together.

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  2. I must say the news from London does look terrible. Hope things calm down soon!

    What a lovely postcard! I'm sure you saw the word 'beer' on top of that building. :)

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  3. It's so cool you have that old postcard! Unfortunately nobody seems to take responsibility for anything these days. Everything is a risk, I guess...

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  4. I am struck by the fact that a postcard is rather like a tweet -- 140 characters, give or take, visible to anyone who cares to look,usually written in haste.If what I've heard about the British post of 100 years ago is true, Eliza could expect Fowler to receive her card either the day she sent it or the following day, and she could have a response just as quickly.

    Watching events in England,hoping for a return of calm --

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  5. Fowler - what a wonderful name.

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  6. What a wonderful name Fowler Beanland is, and that is beautiful neat handwriting too with a real pen. Is it a co-incidence that the postcard printer was in Croydon, where so many businesses are under threat from the current riots?

    I don’t know the answer either; it just seems like mob rule, where ordinary folk are the losers once again. It’s worrying for me as I have a daughter who lives in Catford and travels in to work in central London every day, so I am getting first hand accounts. She tells me people are very scared and there is a lot of tension understandably. Your lad in darkest Africa probably feels safer than she does!

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  7. The riots have hit Birmingham; it's been 20 odd years since the last one. Much good will be undone. I noticed the Croydon postmark and thought about the family store that is now reduced to nothing after generations of serving the public.

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  8. it was a shock to learn of the riots in england - hope the violence is quelled quickly.

    on happier thoughts, i'm totally enamored by the handwriting on this postcard and what a wonderful surname - beanland!! at first glance i thought it was addressed to fowler dreamland!

    stay well and stay safe!

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  9. Watching the scenes from London reminds me of the scenes in the movie V for Vendetta showing the riots that caused the takeover by a fascist dictator; they're hauntingly similar. Considering who's in power in the UK now, it's a very uncomfortable coincidence. My fingers are crossed that art isn't previzualizing history and that you all are going to come out of this well.

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  10. Yeah doesn't look good, if only everything looked like it did on the postcard.

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  11. Alan, as usual, a well balanced view of the situation. I see all the usual politicians putting their serious faces on and spouting words. I'm not convinced that words are enough.

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  12. crazy what is going on...def hard to make a point when it gets lost in the violence...great pic on the card...

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  13. I haven't caught the news today but so far what's happening beggars belief frankly. I think the time for talk is over and I'd be bringing in the troops what's left of them. I have a zero tolerance attitude to hooliganism and looting and the copycat follow up is just disgusting.

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  14. I'm afraid I'm rather naive when it comes to politics, but could this be what the anarchist groups have been striving toward for so long now? It all makes me wonder if this is the beginning of a new revolution.

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  15. So much hangs on a moment - you can use it to send a lovely postcard to encourage or inform someone, or you can use it to lob a petrol bomb into someone's shop ... Whether you choose 'their risk' or 'own risk', it might have consequences. But these days lots of people (at both ends of the social spectrum) don't seem to have a very good appreciation of consequences. Some how it's those in the middle that cop for both.

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  16. I'm shocked and e-mailed my London bloggers to see that they are okay...

    I think I'm with Baino on this...

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