Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Improperly packed postcards

In Nancy Mitford's delightfully lightweight wartime espionage novel Pigeon Pie (1940), at one point her heroine writes to her paramour about their mutual friend Olga, who has in recent months taken on a deliberate air of mystery, built around artlessly dropped hints about her secret war work for "my Chief" as B.F.S., or Beautiful Female Spy:
I'm afraid I was rather rude to her but really I'm getting tired of Olga in the role of beautiful female spy--it's becoming a bore. I've just sent her a telegram saying "Proceed John o' Groats and away further instructions. F.69." Hope she proceeds, that's all.
When I read that passage today, I laughed, but it also made me remember to do something I'd forgotten: my mysterious Texan correspondent.

Longterm readers may remember earlier appearances of my correspondent: over the past couple of years, he (or she!) has sent anonymous postcards with memorable quotes from A Dance to the Music of Time (This one, dealing with the unforgettable Mopsy Pontner, is the best of the batch) or, another time, some interesting context for one of Mark Twain's autobiographical anecdotes. The correspondence has always been the best sort of surprise: irregular, varied, and utterly enjoyable.

What Mitford's spy nonsense reminded me of is that I am two postcards behind! Back in the late spring, I received a pair. One, if I recall correctly, featured a quote from Proust; the other--perhaps?--a quote from Maupassant. They arrived as we were in the midst of packing and dealing with all the stress and frustrations of moving and buying property, and they were an extremely welcome distraction.

But oh, packing. Packing a stuffed-full condo after fourteen years. Ninety boxes of books alone. The postcards . . . are somewhere. And until Mitford reminded me, I had forgotten that I had failed even to acknowledge receipt. So please, mysterious Texan correspondent, accept my apology and gratitude--and, if my delinquency hasn't soured you on this project, click through to the Annex for my new address. To quote Mitford, I hope he/she proceeds, that's all.


  1. As a fan of postcards—both sending and receiving them—I'm a bit envious of you for having a mystery postcard correspondent...

  2. I do feel quite lucky. Connecting with other Anthony Powell fans is a pleasure under any circumstances, but with the added layer of mystery here, it's absolutely wonderful.