News: January 2013 – The missing three months of letters have been located which means a second edition is justified. It may take some time. Do ask!
Draft notes for a preface to the second edition of “Atlantic Airmail”
As the main purpose was to publish the raw material of correspondence and the travel journal, it is inevitable that thoughts later turned to how they can be interpreted and annotated. Much of the personal and family detail could be expanded upon from memory. The fascinating context of the early seventies could be elaborated and referenced.
Finally, as my real purpose suggests, there is potential for reflection on the connections between the places, the experiences and the subsequent influence on our lives. The bare bones of ‘what happened next’ in working life is outlined within this website and illustrated with more personal anecdotes in the sub-section called ‘Places’.
I have been reassured of the value of this effort:
History Through Personal Letters: The Importance of the Written Word by Patricia L. Cummings “Enduring Family Memories The potential of letters is powerful, and know this: the written word is both enduring and endearing… In every letter, a bit of the personality of the writer shows through, and provides the reader with some clues as to the person’s state of mind and life experiences.”
Patricia Cummings (2007)
Source: http://www.quiltersmuse.com/history_through_personal_letters.htm [link now broken]
The Christmas 1973 audio-tape
The letters refer to the audio-cassette I was sent and I was rather rude about it having enjoyed a peaceful Christmas in contrast to the mayhem they recorded with a house-full at Crewe. This included Mum, Dad, Gran, Jan, Steve, Barrie, Chris, Sarah, Katy and Helly. Plus dogs Susie, Henry, Pembs and cat Tom Tom.
The tape came to light and has now been digitized. It included an episode of the radio programme ‘I’m sorry, I’ll read that again‘ (Angus Prune) and thirty-eight minutes of chit-chat and badinage labelled ‘Instant Nostalgia‘.
There are a few gems. Dad, given the opportunity to speak to the microphone, announces ‘You don’t know how lucky you are’ and Gran continues with ‘It’s Hells Bells here. You can’t get anything to eat’. Listen to 30 seconds here! (Press back arrow on your browser to return to this page.) Jan later declares, ‘Let’s do something intelligent.’
Very near the end Mum says ‘this is not for public consumption, you know’. Left alone she fills the tape with a clip of Edith Piaf’s ‘No Regrets’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ and adds, acerbically, ‘except I got advice from Jan, Steve and everyone else.’
Finally, there is a reminder of the world outside in the winter of 1973-4 with the radio news headlines confirming the three-day week, City prices rocketing and troubles in Northern Ireland.
A limited reading list was provided and some additions have come to light immediately.
This substantial and authoritative book is now the essential text on the period. Sandbrook, Dominic (2010) State of Emergency. The way we were: Britain, 1970-74, London: Allen Lane.
Of a more more whimsical nature, I came across this website: Escape to the Seventies www.escape-to-the-seventies.com
Added 16 March 2013
Alistair Cooke’s America. 1. The First Impact, (First broadcast 1972) BBC iPlayer