Thursday, 20 May 2010

Postcards and Letters to Juliet.

Today has been one of those days when the heat is so oppressive that indoors there is no respite. And outdoors, poses a whole other set of problems. In a somewhat controversial attitude I tend to prefer to stay indoors when the weather is what they call clammy or close. It’s just not nice when my face sweats so much that its slides down into my chest. That is my make-up slides, but blogging lends itself so well to being over dramatic. Of course if I insist on shutting myself away from the world whatever will I write about? I’ve been scouring the flat for inspiration, things I could photograph in the vain hope that they might be of interest. There’s really no reason to worry about the interest factor, other than I’ve noticed that visual blogs work the best. This realisation comes from a purely personal level in which I’ve discovered that the ones that balance the words with images are the most pleasing to the eye.

Anyway I thought about photographing a couple of antique postcards that my flatmate, sentimental old bean that she is, bought from a local bric-a-brac shop at the end of our street. Its one of those incredibly quaint places that stocks all manner of strange relics from another age: costume jewellery, miniature train sets and towns, tiny glass statuettes of animals and ancient cosmetic apparatus. Outside the shop there is a box containing old postcards. Thanks to my flatmate’s curious nature, we are now the proud owners of two such postcards from the past. And where did we decide to put them up? In the bathroom of course, for I believe that you can never have enough literature or visual stimuli in there.

By strange coincidence while I was thinking about these postcards I stumbled across an article about the Club di Giulietta, ‘Juliet’s Club’, were a group of volunteers, known as ‘Juliet’s secretaries’ reply to hundreds of letters to Shakespeare’s fictional romantic heroine. I never knew people sent letters to Juliet. This seems at once an incredibly strange and romantic idea. The very notion that people in their hour of heart-broken need would think to write to the ill-fated Juliet, rather than turn to their friends, or even a therapist, seems incredibly odd in the 21st century. And yet human nature never fails to surprise, for while I sit here ‘blogging’ like millions of others with access to the world-wide web, in an age when we take instant communication for granted, what with emails and mobile texting, ‘Juliet’s Club’ receives the humble hand-written letter more than any other form of correspondence. Emails apparently don’t feature that prominently. Coupled with the fact that Juliet’s secretaries work for free and we have an incidence of seemingly altruistic communication in which they bring small words of comfort to the heart-broken and forlorn.

Perhaps it’s something to do with age and getting older, perhaps it’s to do with our current climate of economic doom and gloom, but I find myself gravitating towards these tiny pieces of information that reveal aspects of human nature at its finest. We do look out for each other after all and we are interested in what others are doing and how their lives bare out. In some ways blogging by its very nature is evidence of this. Only yesterday I discovered the wonders that the world has to offer in the form of a video from Denmark (posted on Tania Kindersley's excellent Backwards in High Heels) where a bus driver received an amazing and moving birthday surprise from his regular passengers. It sounds cheesy but this is the kind of world I want to live in. All too often I’m accused of cynicism, for its hard as a feminist not to sometimes get caught up in a flurry of discontent and this is of course entirely necessary, but one also needs their soul revived. One also needs to take pleasure in the small things. Sometimes one just needs to go with it.

With this in mind I’m going to post the postcards here. For I love a good postcard and I worry with emails and instant messaging that the art of writing a postcard and sending one from some far flung corner of the world might begin to die out. And that would be a bit of a shame.

Image by Dora Petherbridge

This rather hilarious postcard was sent in 1963 and shows us Brits living up to our reputation for enjoying a bit of bawdy 'carry on' type humour. Inside the card reads 'Having a lovely time the weather is sunny & hot. Last night we went to see the Cliff Richard Show. It was fabulous. See you all Monday.'

Image by Dora Petherbridge

The postcard on the right has its message on the front and reads 'Dear Mouriel The beds at home are a treat after your homemade ones.' One can only imagine what 'homemade' beds are like ...

If you would like to read more about 'Juliet's Club' the article can be found here -


  1. heya, just a heads up, I believe a movie has just come out in the states )or is coming out) called something like letters to juliet.-emma

  2. Hey, thanks,

    Yes, the article I've posted talks about the movie too. And yes its called 'Letters to Juliet' and features Amanda Seyfried of Mean Girls and Mamma Mia fame. xxx