Luxuriant body hair, stashes of sex toys and taboo desires: Hundreds in Britain have revealed their deepest COVID-19 lockdown secrets on postcards sent to a London stationery shop.
During the latest UK lockdown, reimposed in January, Eleanor Tattersfield started giving out stamped blank postcards marked “Lockdown Secret” to customers of her family’s shop in central London.
She saw it as a way to fill a lull in business, but also a means for people to unburden themselves.
“I thought: ‘God, wouldn’t that be brilliant in lockdown to have an outlet for this strange year,’” she said.
Hundreds of cards began flowing in and now cover a table in the small letterpress design shop, Marby & Elm, while more are carefully filed in boxes.
Tattersfield said she “could not have anticipated that it would have taken off in this way” and is astonished at the efforts that have gone into the cards.
“I literally feel they’re all like my babies,” she said.
Many are miniature works of art featuring collages, sequins and glitter. However, it is the messages that are most startling, from heart-warming to funny to chilling.
Tattersfield, who designs cards, said that she can already pick out popular themes, including sex and masturbation, in-laws, increasingly yeti-like body hair, weird food habits and Zoom calls.
As the lockdown has dragged on, people are increasingly worried about emerging from it, she said.
“Now there’s a fear of the opening up,” she said.
“I don’t want to unlock,” one writer penned, while another confessed: “I’m sorry, but I don’t miss any of you.”
For some, the lockdown has brought budding romance: One said they had sent a card to a “rather gorgeous doctor” spotted on a COVID-19 documentary, while another said: “My landlord got a lot more from me than just my rent payment during lockdown.”
One even confessed to an “inappropriate lockdown crush” on Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser who often flanks the prime minister at COVID-19 briefings.
Others claimed to have rekindled existing relationships.
“I totally remembered how much I like my wife,” one message read.
Breakups were also prominent.
One postcard contained pictures of colorful sex toys and revealed a divorce meant the writer “had no choice but to upgrade the self pleasure options.”
The most disturbing messages break some major taboos and even, apparently, criminal laws.
One wrote of forging “thousands of pounds [dollars] worth of train tickets.”
Another card depicting a rainbow — a symbol of support for state healthcare workers — included the caption “dad survived coronavirus,” with tiny words added below: “But I wish he hadn’t.”
A bright pink card featured a list of the biblical 10 commandments with boxes ticked next to each, except for number six: Thou shall not murder.
Tattersfield hopes to put the postcards into a book and would like to display them in an exhibition. She said she has already had offers from several galleries.
“As a collection, they are such a powerful piece of social history,” she said.
Several major museums are already documenting the COVID-19 era with everyday objects.
The Museum of London is asking people to send in their lockdown dreams and diaries, while the Victoria and Albert Museum has blogged about toilet paper hoarding during the first lockdown.
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