One day in 1997 I came home to find a postcard on the doormat.
Even back then it was decidedly retro, meaning it had probably been sent by either my brother or my friend Adam. Like me, both of them will actively seek out retro or just plain bizarre postcards when abroad or in secondhand shops. I scanned the image on the front…
…then turned it over to see who it was from.
I was mistaken. It was clearly my 7-year-old daughter’s handiwork. I recognised the writing and the drawing style. More than either of those, though, I recognised her sense of humour.
The card reads:
You are doomed for you will explode with dignomight.
Love Mr Shape man
Georgia had written the card at a friend’s house after school, then placed it amongst the other mail on the doormat for me to find when I got home.
I loved the postcard in 1997 and it immediately got blu-tacked to our fridge where it’s remained for the past 14 years. Yellowing with age, it’s now off to join greetings cards, old photos and other paraphernalia from my kids in a box file marked ‘Ahhhh’.
Georgia remembers writing the card. She said she almost gave the game away right from the start when she began to write ‘Dear Dad’, then changed it to ‘Keven’ before correcting the typo. The word ‘explode’ also gave her problems, and ‘dignomight’ was clearly a word she had heard but never seen written down. All the same, she made a valiant attempt to spell it based on word constructions she was familiar with (sign, might).
Then came another touch of beautiful surrealism with the signature. Where on earth did ‘Mr Shape man’ come from? Why did he want me to explode with dynamite? Georgia says that her 7-year-old self was concerned that I might get unduly frightened by the death threat, so had filled each of the shapes with a smiley face. To soften the blow, as it were. (My appalling scan has cut off the actual smiles but they are there.)
She spelt the address slightly wrong, too, and New Malden has never been SW anything. She was remembering the SW12 postcode from our previous house in Balham. I like the added sense of peril provided by her choice of stamp. I believe that only someone with a keen and highly advanced sense of humour could have thought to create this postcard. It’s one of the reasons I am extremely proud of her, despite the odd misgivings over the sentiment in the message.
Three years later, Georgia was enjoying a 10th birthday party with several of her friends at a bowling alley in Kingston. In fact, all the alleys were occupied by partying children. At one point, the bowling was stopped and an MC-type character with a microphone went up to each of the birthday boys and girls and got them to answer a few questions about their special day. One of the questions was “Well Lucy/Joe/Tabitha/Josh, if you could arrange for anyone at all to come and visit you at your home this afternoon, who would you choose?”
The kids thought for a bit then came up with names such as Christina, Robbie, Justin, Britney and Kylie. Then it became Georgia’s turn. “Anyone at all?” she asked.
“Yes. Anyone in the world. Anastasia, Cher, Eminem, Michael Jack…”
“I’d like Gary Larson,” said Georgia.
There are plenty of adults who don’t get The Far Side. Georgia was a fan when she was 10 years old.