Horsing Around

An Edwardian letter to Father Christmas

Tis the season to be merrily writing to Santa, the one time of year children are guaranteed to employ their best handwriting. Even though Mail Obsession features general British trivia (postcodes are just the device for splitting the country up), I still included a few gems of postal history - like this Edwardian boy's letter to the man in red ...

Horsing Around

Dear Santa

When I said my prayers last night, I told God to tell you to bring me a hobby-horse. I don’t want a hobby-horse, really. A honestly live horse is what I want. Mamma told me not to ask for him, because I probably would make you mad, so you wouldn’t give me anything at all, and if I got him I wouldn’t have any place to keep him. A man I know will keep him, he says, if you get him for me. I thought you would like to know.

Please don’t be mad.



PS – a Shetland would be enough

PS – I’d rather have a hobby-horse than nothing at all

Posts: 8
Edwardian letter to Father Christmas
Reply #1 on : Tue December 08, 2015, 06:31:18
Delightful! Of course these days we hope that some rom-com screenwriter didn't dream it up and pass it off as real. Oh, where's the innocence?

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Big Ben

On a visit to Big Ben, I was told that if you stand at the bottom of the tower with a portable radio and listen to the chimes on Radio 4 (they still transmit them live), you hear them on the radio before you hear them ‘for real’. I couldn’t believe it – but was intrigued enough to try it for myself. And you know what? It’s absolutely true. The bongs come out of the radio a fraction of a second before they reach your ears from the top of the tower. It’s something so silly, so counter-intuitive, that you have to tell people. (Well, I did.) Researching the explanation, I found that it’s because radio waves travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) rather than the 700 or so miles per hour at which sound waves travel. The signal travelling down the wire from the microphone to the BBC goes at the speed of light too. Hence the radio version overtaking the real one.

I realised that this would be the perfect way to teach the principle in school physics lessons. Instead of a boring teacher droning on that ‘radio waves travel at the speed of light’, illustrate it with this beautiful and quirky little fact. The kids will remember it then. I certainly would have done if my physics teacher had taken this approach. As it was I had to wait until I heard a piece of so-called ‘trivia’ in my thirties.