The Irritations of Modern Life; 58. Postcards
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 & Ents blogs
Even though there was a complete absence of our favourite odd couple Brienne and Jaime, we got anoth...
If you had any doubt where Binky gets her brilliantly brassy disregard for social graces, episode se...
Kate Simko is a lady who has constantly worked towards to pushing herself musically. Though she make...
'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
This is the end... Keyboard player of The Doors Ray Manzarek dies of cancer aged 74
Coronation Street triumphs over EastEnders at British Soap Awards 2013
School-gate mums: Is 2013's Fifty Shades a novel by Gill Hornby called The Hive?
Arrested Development returns but can the new episodes on Netflix capture the show's deadpan glory days?
- 1 'He was lucky he didn't die' - George Michael fell out of speeding car onto M1 motorway, according to eye witness
- 2 Tottenham to smash pay scale with £150,000-a-week contract in attempt to tie Gareth Bale to club
- 3 Austerity has hardened the nation's heart
- 4 Gay couple beaten in park urge MPs to moderate language on gay marriage
- 5 Why Arsène Wenger must spend to put icing on the cake and buy likes of Stevan Jovetic for Arsenal
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.