Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but for the last few months I have been resolutely ignoring the festive music which has been playing in the shops. It must test the patience of sales staff being subjected to Slade blaring through the speakers on an endless loop with Noddy Holder yelling ‘ITS CHRIIISTMAAAAAS!’ No it isn’t, it’s a mild damp day in mid-October.
Anyway, now that it actually is December I thought I should begin to get myself organised so I have been out and bought my Christmas cards.
In our archives, there is a Christmas card (ref: OL/19/7) amongst the papers of German pharmacologist Otto Loewi FRS (1873-1961) from the Austrian poet Richard Beer-Hoffman (1866-1945). It seems that Beer-Hoffman and Loewi became well-acquainted during the latter years of Beer-Hoffman’s life as the Loewi papers also contain a few postcards which were sent to him by Beer-Hoffman during the years 1942-1944, in which he discusses arrangements for social gatherings and invites Loewi to attend one of his poetry readings.
There is also a Christmas card (ref: GLB/65/110/58) which was sent from Eric and Barbara Whelpton to physiologist George Lindor Brown FRS (1903-1971) in 1968. Eric Whelpton (1894–1981) was a travel writer and news correspondent. The card was designed by his wife Barbara (nee Crocker) and depicts Rye [East Sussex] church on Christmas Eve. Barbara often worked with Eric, illustrating some of his travel books on European countries. In the card Whelpton suggests meeting up with Lindor Brown at Oxford University during the New Year.
Howard Florey’s (1898-1968) papers contain a greetings card (ref: HF/1/23/9/13/17) from William Gibson (1913-2009). The handwritten card reads: ‘To the penicillin king’ from ‘Bill Gibson’ in reference to Florey’s role in the mass production of the antibiotic. Canadian born Gibson trained as a neurologist. During the war Gibson served in the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) within the clinical investigation units, where he engaged in night‐vision experiments, as well as conducting tests on methods of removing nitrogen from the joints of high‐altitude flyers. He later became deputy director of medical research at the RCAF headquarters in Ottawa. The University of British Columbia Archives holds a series of correspondence between Gibson and Florey between the years 1955-1971.
Hopefully this has inspired you to put on some Christmas tunes, sit down with a glass of eggnog (yuck!) and start writing your cards; here’s a reminder of Royal Mail’s last posting dates.