IT has proved to be a brilliantly simple idea.

Take a postcard and upload it onto Twitter, together with a short snippet of the message written on it.

That's exactly what postcard collector Tom Jackson decided to do – and to his surprise and delight, it touched a nerve.

The Northern Echo: SUGGESTIVE: Sent from Podgora, Croatia, the message reads: "Hope you have some luck at you know what"

SUGGESTIVE: Sent from Podgora, Croatia, the message reads: "Hope you have some luck at you know what"

His ingenious concept has proved so successful that his Twitter account Postcard From The Past (@PastPostcard) now has more than 45,000 followers.

And the best of them have recently been collected into a charming book.

Tom uploads up to a dozen cards to Twitter each day. Every one of his tweets features a real postcard, with an extract from the letter scribbled on the back.

He tells me that he soon realised that the limitations of social media could work in his favour.

"It struck me that things that work on Twitter tend to be short messages with a picture – obviously very much like a postcard is," he says.

"I put a couple up, but I couldn't include the whole message because Twitter limits the number of characters you can have.

"By making the quote isolated like that it created an interest. People started buying into it and big names started retweeting it, so I decided to keep going."

By posing just a fragment of the whole message, taken out of context, Tom says it makes what has been written somehow stronger. The best of them, he argues have an artistic, or even a literary quality to them.

The postcards he tweets date mainly from the 1960s and 70s and evoke memories from what Tom calls the second golden age of postcard sending – the first was before the First World War – when holidays, especially foreign holidays, started to become more affordable.

They have been described as "relics of forgotten times".

"I think nostalgia is a big part of it because the pictures can be quite resonant," says Tom.

"But also I think it's because people don't sent postcards any more. The quotes are funny and people find it amusing.

"The other thing is, I think a lot of stuff on Twitter is quite clever, witty, sharp and trying to make a point or out-do people. It's quite a combative place and these pop up and I think they can seem quite refreshing. They're quite simple in a way and poignant."

The book is a collection of 151 cards, with reviewers praising the result as "sublimely funny", " six by four inch portions of pure heaven", "poignant and deeply creepy"– but most often "hilarious".

And you can see what they mean.

Some of the quotes hint at a minor disaster, like the holidaymaker who reports: "Have had to have four injections in rump," on a card sent from Mallorca in Spain.

Others have a more sinister element: "I call our tent Slaughter Corner," is the menacing message on the back of a card carrying an image of a desolate Welsh hillside

Some writers are simply informative, like the revelation: "Saw Donald Sinden sitting in a cafe," on a card from Snowdonia.

And then there is the bizarre – for example, a card sent from the Yorkshire Dales, which reads: "Huge hordes of wild sheep, cows and rabbits ready to attack at any time."

A few wouldn't look out of place in a Carry On film: "The proprietor had an organ a bit like Uncle George's," is the bulletin on a card send from Gard, in France, while one can only guess what the writer who scrawled: "Hope you have had some luck at you know what," on a card from Croatia was implying.

Certain writers are clearly just going through the motions: "I can't explain what it's like here. So I won't bother," is the half-hearted effort from a sender in the Scilly Isles.

But perhaps the most satisfying are the poetic missives, like the holidaymaker in Turkey who penned: "Life here is full of tomorrows."

This is just a small example of the abstract gems contained on every page of this most unusual of books.

And it is the tip of the iceberg of a much larger store of these mini masterpieces.

Tom has been collecting postcards for years and has "many thousands" of them – plenty of material for him to draw on to continue delighting his Twitter audience for some time to come.

Of course, not all of the postcards are useable. Tom estimates he can post less than ten per cent of his collection on Twitter.

"Most postcards are boring," he admits. "The job I'm doing is to find the good bits."

  • Postcard From The Past by Tom Jackson is published by Fourth Estate, priced £9.99.