September 16th, 2011

life on mars

Postcards on the Box

I’m finding more and more often that BBC4 is my channel. Nothing on? There’s bound to be some quirky documentary to knit by and so it proved yesterday evening with The Picture Postcard World of Nigel Walmsley . The programme opened with an invisible man grumbling and I immediately thought, ‘I know that voice!’ Yes, folks, ‘Nigel Walmsley’ was Ed Reardon, aka Christopher Douglas. Ed Reardon’s Week is one of the very few radio comedy shows which actually makes me laugh (you can hear it now on Radio 4 Extra) so this was promising.

The premise is that Nigel receives an invitation to give a talk on Collecting Picture Postcards. As there’s dinner and a fee involved, he’s keen to do it. The problem is that he knows nothing at all about postcards and so he spends a week delving into the arcane world of deltiology. He meets collectors, dealers and, because ‘I need a tame media don’, Professor John Sutherland. As he puts the talk together, we hear the familiar tap-tapping of what must be Ed Reardon’s typewriter. For the collector, the interest may lie in old portraits, views of certain places, Donald McGill or motorway service stations. It was fascinating to learn that postcards were the Twitter of their day. A news event could be photographed in the morning, turned into a postcard in the afternoon and received in the evening.

This was a quirky, entertaining and informative programme which I enjoyed very much.
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