The young woman behind the desk within my local post office looked bewildered. “I think we’ve got some somewhere”, she mumbled before returning with a pile of dusty envelopes. “Nobody really asks for these any more,” she admitted.
A century ago this month the world’s very first air mail service began
Passed underneath the counter and into my hand was an example of a mode of communication who has all but vanished. Thanks to Skype, texts and e-mails, there’s need that is little when it comes to small pale blue envelopes aided by the diagonal red and blue stripes all over border, extra thin blue writing paper and great number of stamps and post marks that constitutes an air mail letter. Dr. Richard Saundry, editor associated with British Air Mail Society Journal, believes that we’re vulnerable to losing something both romantic and powerful.
“I think it’s very regrettable that nobody generally seems to use air mail any more”, he informs me. “We are now living in a very lazy age now and something has been lost. There’s a huge thrill and excitement, and a kind of romance in receiving an air mail letter through the opposite side around the globe on the door mat. The online world just can’t replace that.”
A hundred years ago this month the world’s very air that is first service began. Flying from Allahabad, near Delhi, only seven years following the Wright brothers made their first forays to the air, the plane, flown by a French pilot called Henri Pequet, travelled 15 miles to Naini. On board were six and a half thousand letters including one published by Motilal Nehru, father associated with the president that is first of India.
The UK wasn’t far behind using the first air mail flight lifting removed from Hendon to Windsor later that year. Today the speed that these pioneers succeeded in reaching to get letters around the world is seldom beaten. Richard during the Air Mail Society told me of a letter he possesses that was sent from Buenos Aires to China in 1938. The letter found its way to 13 days- a feat that would be hard to match now without having to pay a premium to a courier company that is private.
As a young child I thought there is nothing more exciting than getting occasional letters from my aunt in South Africa. Covered in strange stamps and smudged post marks, the letter that is creased contain pages of dense hand writing describing life in Cape Town when you look at the latter many years of apartheid. It seemed almost like getting a letter that is personal an esteemed foreign correspondent additionally the gravitas of receiving these letters was so excellent that, 20 years on, I still possess them. I still receive news it’s by e-mail, the tone is scrappy and, in my hastily returned missives, a huge degree of effort and attempt at phrasing and sentence structure is missing from her, but these days.
“Getting an air mail letter was so much a lot better than a phone call”, admits Kate Hunter, a ward that is retired in Nottingham, whose husband had a long career when you look at the oil industry.
“He was away for months at a time through the 1970’s and I also always found the rushed phone calls he could occasionally make in my opinion really unsatisfying”, she recalled in my opinion.
“What i must say i loved were the times when an air mail letter from Kuwait or Dubai would slide through the letter box. It had been only on paper that my husband really was in a position to express his feelings, tell me how much he was missing me and provide me a truer that is much of what he had been going through. There’s an honesty to a tactile hand written letter that you can’t get in a phone call or an e-mail. I might want to have the letter, curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and lose myself in just the handwriting for some time. Even though the letters might take ages to arrive, I somehow felt nearer to him whilst holding an air mail letter than I ever did when we spoke on the phone.”
With my own air mail envelopes at your fingertips, I arrived home to realise I’d made a error that is serious. I desired to write, but to whom? I experienced e-mail addresses for my friends based everywhere from Montevideo to Monaco but i came across i did son’t have just one address that is postal any one of them anymore. What exactly did I do? No choice was had by me except that to e-mail my friends asking for his or her address.
Five days later, and I also continue to haven’t got around to writing anything- preferring to have a ‘Skype’ chat instead. Maybe Richard was right about us surviving in a lazy age. One hundred years from now, will our descendents have any basic idea about the allure of a letter of love, heartache or politics which includes travelled across the world by plane?