The Irritations of Modern Life; 58. Postcards

IT'S THAT time of year again. As half the country lie unclothed on foreign beaches, turning an interesting shade of magenta, the other half get to share their "wacky" holiday experiences via the postcard.

I don't know about you, but whenever I see that coloured piece of paper peeping out from behind the electricity bill, I get an attack of the heebie- jeebies.

There on the kitchen table is a picture of an ape, and on the back of this card are the words, "saw this and thought of you". Mmm, very droll. The friend, who the previous week had entertained you with hours of badinage, has suddenly morphed into Alan Partridge.

Last week I received a card from an old friend. On the front was that well known cliche, the peachy bottom covered in sand. Scrawled diagonally on the back were the words: "boobs, bums and beer, what more could a man want?"

This "faux-fun" is all part of the holiday-season pressure to have a good time. Otherwise sane individuals step on to a foreign beach and turn into buffoons intent on two weeks of slapstick comedy. They have their hair plaited with brightly coloured beads and collapse into giggles as they are pulled through the sea on a giant rubber banana.

The summer holiday, it seems, is a licence for all kinds of embarrassing behaviour. Which is fine. After all, one of the purposes of the two-week break is to escape the minutiae of everyday life.

But there is a holiday self and a home self, and the two should never meet. That's where the postcard goes wrong. It collapses the distinction between the two, and the embarrassing anecdotes you write in that euphoric state of stupidity are recorded for ever.

I always wonder why people send postcards. Why waste good sunbathing hours scouring tacky shops for a funny card, and then wracking their brain to write something that at best sounds like contrived wit, at worst like a bad joke gone wrong?

Yet it seems that, faced with the job of communicating with their non- holidaying friends, the postcard writer is suddenly gripped by the need to make his holiday sound as off-the-wall as possible. "Got trollied, went for a midnight dip, stole Dickie's trunks and watched him walk starkers back to the hotel. Ha, Ha!"

And it doesn't stop there. Come September, you're bound to get that message: "Hi, having a few friends over for beer and holiday snaps..."

Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'