Airmail: The allure of this air letter that is long-distance
The young woman behind the desk inside 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 of these any more,” she admitted.
A hundred years 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 which have all but vanished. Because of Skype, texts and e-mails, there’s need that is little for the small pale blue envelopes with all the diagonal red and blue stripes round the border, extra thin blue writing paper and multitude of evolutionwriters 20% off stamps and post marks that constitutes an air mail letter. Dr. Richard Saundry, editor of this British Air Mail Society Journal, believes that we’re in danger of losing something both powerful and romantic.
“I think it is very regrettable that nobody generally seems to use air mail any more”, he informs me. “We live in a very lazy age now and one has been lost. There’s a huge thrill and excitement, and a kind of romance in receiving an air mail letter through the other side around the globe on the door mat. The world-wide-web just can’t replace that.”
A hundred years ago this month the world’s very first air mail service began. Flying from Allahabad, near Delhi, only seven years after the Wright brothers made their first forays in to the air, the plane, flown by a pilot that is french Henri Pequet, travelled 15 miles to Naini. Up to speed were six . 5 thousand letters including one written by Motilal Nehru, father regarding the president that is first of India.
Great britain wasn’t far behind with all the first air mail flight lifting removed from Hendon to Windsor later that year. The speed that these pioneers succeeded in reaching to have letters all over the world is seldom beaten today. Richard in the Air Mail Society told me of a letter he possesses which was sent from Buenos Aires to China in 1938. The letter arrived in 13 days- a feat that could be difficult to match now without paying a premium to a private courier company.
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 creased letter would contain pages of dense hand writing describing life in Cape Town in the latter many years of apartheid. It seemed almost like getting a letter that is personal an esteemed foreign correspondent and also the gravitas of receiving these letters was so excellent that, twenty years on, I still possess them. I still receive news from her, but these days it is by e-mail, the tone is scrappy and, in my hastily returned missives, a big degree of effort and attempt at phrasing and sentence structure is missing.
“Getting an air mail letter was so much better than a phone call”, admits Kate Hunter, a retired ward sister in Nottingham, whose husband had an extended career in the oil industry.
“He was away for months at a stretch through the 1970’s and I also always found the rushed phone calls he could occasionally make for me really unsatisfying”, she recalled for me.
“What i must say i loved were the days when an air mail letter from Kuwait or Dubai would slide through the letter box. It was only on paper that my husband really was able to express his feelings, let me know just how much he was missing me and give me a truer that is much of what he had been going right through. There’s an honesty to a tactile hand written letter which you can’t get in a phone call or an e-mail. I would personally love to get the letter, flake out regarding the sofa with a cup of tea and just lose myself in the handwriting for a while. Even though the letters could take ages to arrive, I somehow felt closer to him whilst holding an air mail letter than I ever did as soon as we spoke on the phone.”
With my own air mail envelopes at hand, I arrived home to realise I’d made a serious error. I wanted to create, but to whom? I experienced e-mail addresses for my buddies based everywhere from Montevideo to Monaco but i discovered I didn’t have just one address that is postal any one of them anymore. So what did i really do? No choice was had by me aside from to e-mail my buddies asking for their 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 staying in a lazy age. One hundred years from now, will our descendents have any idea concerning the allure of a letter of love, heartache or politics who has travelled around the world by plane?