true gripes unsolicited postcards

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The Independent Online
We have entered the season of the unsolicited postcard, and I don't like it. I'm talking about the postcards I get from people I didn't even know were on holiday. It all comes as a bit of a shock to discover that someone I was talking to down the pub last Thursday is now faraway in a foreign country, sitting at a pavement cafe with an ice-cold beer, writing postcards.

Mine duly lands on the mat a few days later and I pick it up with irritation, wondering who is pestering me with postcards today. The handwriting is relaxed, the message jolly, the sunshine almost bounces off the card. "Can't be anyone I know,'' I decide. But then I examine the signature at the bottom and realise that it is, in fact, from a friend. And there was me thinking they were going to have to go to work today, same as I do.

These people never usually write, so why start now? Just to tell me they're on holiday, or "travelling" as they prefer to call it. Why can't they just say "Oh, by the way, I'm going away on Saturday so you won't be seeing me around for a couple of weeks''? That, apparently, is too simple. They have to say it with a postcard instead.

Well, I'm sorry but I don't particularly like receiving a card depicting goats wandering round on some mountain I've never heard of in Greece. Not without fair notice.

It's not as if I'm one of those people who, on hearing that someone's going on holidays always says: "Don't forget to send a postcard." People who say this only do it so that they can have some power over what you do while you are away. By issuing such a directive they know that you are going to have to spend at least part of your time abroad buying, writing and posting the card. They know you'll have to queue in some dusty post office in a remote corner of the world and waste your precious foreign currency on stamps.

My step-father has found out about my aversion to postcards and so wherever he goes he bombards me with them the whole time. Day after day they turn up, sometimes in pairs and threes from the same place. He never seems to tire of this pastime. Well, I'm going to take revenge. This year I'm going to bombard him with birthday cards. See how he likes it.