Adventures in Deltiology

Do people still send postcards these days…?

David Hockney: Untitled, 11 April 2011


Dear C  So pleased to hear that you are settled for a while. I looked up Egremont & it sounds interesting, & the job sounds great – just the sort of thing I would have enjoyed doing. I’d love to include Egremont Red in one of my paintings so a free sample… Not much to report – not acting any more. Never see Tom – he’s so busy doing MN’s D. I think he’s still expecting to be discovered! keep in touch.  Celia xx

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David Hockney “Untitled, 11 April 2011” / iPad drawing / (c) David Hockney / Published by Radio Times magazine for the exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 2012

Postmark: Mount Pleasant Mail Centre 13 February 2016 / Stamp: The Journey to Bethlehem by David Holmes (2015)


So much to write about with this recent postcard received a few weeks ago from an old friend, Celia. She covers a lot of ground here… most significantly she alludes to my recent change of circumstances. I left my job of 14 years in August last year and between October and late January this year I was ‘homeless’, relying on the huge goodwill of friends allowing me to sleep on sofas and in spare rooms. For a time I had a part-time job and also went on the dole – a first time experience for me after almost 25 years of employment straight from leaving school. I know that Celia would be genuinely ‘so pleased to hear [I am] settled’. We’ve known each other for about 15 years since we met at the Tower Theatre, an amateur theatre company in London. I joined in 2001 and the first production we worked on together was Chekhov’s The Seagull, in which I played Konstantin and Celia worked on costumes and backstage. Being a part of the Tower Theatre, despite a long hiatus between 2005 and 2013, was a life-changing experience for me and it’s a place where I met so many wonderful friends. I regret not being involved more, especially recently, but I ran my own business for a while, whilst holding down a full-time job simultaneously, and there simply wasn’t time for me to tread the boards. I did keep in touch with many of those I met, including Celia, with whom I forged a closer friendship as she worked in my knitting shop for a time too.

The Tower Theatre connection continues in this postcard with the mention of Tom – ‘so busy doing MN’s D’ – Tom is another Tower member who has been friends with Celia for over 40 years. I’ve been lucky enough to call him my best pal for about 15 – again, we met during The Seagull when he played my Uncle Sorin. Tom has been acting since the 1940s but has never appeared on the professional stage… until now. The Tower have been chosen as the London amateur theatre group who will take part in performances of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Barbican in May. The production will tour the country first (starting in Newcastle on 16th March) and in each region one group of amateur actors will join the professional company to play Bottom and the Mechanicals. It is a dream come true for Tom, who will make his RSC debut at the age of 80… I think Celia is right… he is still expecting to be discovered!

After 18 years in London I have returned to Cumbria, where I was born and brought up, and have settled in the small market town of Egremont. The ‘Egremont Red’ refers to a unique handmade paint that is produced here by a co-operative called Florence Paintmakers. They are based at the disused iron ore mine, Florence Mine, and they still use the pigments from the ore to make artists’ materials, including oils, watercolours and pastels. I have sent Celia a sample (as hinted) for her to use in one of her paintings and I’m thrilled that she’ll get a chance to use it.

It is bittersweet to receive postcards from friends who I used to see regularly but who are now too distant. I miss the opportunity to meet up for a chat, a coffee and a catch-up. I’m absolutely going back to London to see Tom in May so hope to see Celia there too.

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