Daily Archives: February 27, 2024

Remote Romance Is Older Than Boomers

Have you ever seen the word Swalk?

If you read, say, Biggles-style media, if you’re interested in World War 2 period media, you might have seen it, S W A L K, somewhere, usually on a letter, sometimes graffiti, maybe sometimes mentioned aloud. I saw it on a BC comic, by Johnny Hart, which isn’t an archive worth diving for an example. I can just imagine Hugh Lawrie saying it, in that doleful, soppy, romantic, I-know-I’m-the-stupid-person-in-the-room way of a Blackadder or Jeeves And Wooster episode, though I’ve no idea if at any point he says it. I know it came up on an episode of QI — part of a technique that came up in World War 2 for communicating a crude message to the recipient, in a way that looked deniable to anyone overseeing it.

See, you might see, on the back of an envelope, the letters SWAK or SWALK. It stood for ‘Sealed With A Loving Kiss.’ There were others like BURMA and NORWICH – and they were, mostly, filthy. It’s a touch of human contact during a period of extreme deprivation.

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