Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Saturday, 29 July 2017

THE LOST ART OF LETTER-WRITING ......

...... or is it a lost art? Today it is pouring down with rain as it has been for the past two days. My grandchildren - Alex who is ten, and Emily, who had her sixth birthday yesterday - are staying for the weekend. The trip to the beach has been cancelled so what are they doing to entertain themselves? Well, they've built a post box out of giant Lego, that's what. Emily has taken a fancy to a hessian bag I was given for my birthday and is postman. We are all writing letters to one another. They go something like this. 'Dear Grandma, what is for supper tonight? Love Granddad.' (I'm tempted to say whatever it is he fancies cooking, but that's another blogpost!) 'Dear Granddad, I love you. Emily' 'Alex, can I have some of your Haribos? Emily' 'Grandma, I do not need a bath tonight. Alex' They are getting through rainforests of paper! But then, they are young and are yet to embrace emails and texts and Twitter and Facebook for sending messages. And thank goodness for that, I say. And besides, they are getting excellent writing practice. And those letters are going into their 'treasures' box as fast as they write and receive them. I have a friend who lives just six streets away from me and has taken up the pen again - a Schaeffer fountain pen which she fills with black ink. She likes to cut articles from newspapers and send them to me with a handwritten note - 'Saw this, and thought of you'. She has the most beautiful handwriting and I can tell it gives her as much pleasure to write these little notes as it does me to receive them.
On my birthday this year (a rather significant one!) I had a card from a friend in Dundowran, Queensland, Australia. There was a handwritten letter in with the card - just two sides of paper but it was full of news; her mother's sudden death, her son's marriage, a grandchild on the way - which was totally unexpected and it brought a lump to my throat to think she had sat down and thought to write to me about things which were affecting her life. I Googled where she lives and for a few moments it felt as though I was with her, sharing her loss, sharing her joy.
There are, of course, many historic letters written by famous (and infamous) people that we can now all look at. If I just think of two famous writers - say, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen - it gets me thinking ... will well-known and much-published and lauded writers of today have any handwritten letters kept for posterity? Will there be any handwritten book manuscripts of today's authors kept in museums? I am hardly famous and my handwriting leaves a lot to be desired (I blame having learned shorthand which I had to write at great speed way back then!) and I think I'd be too afraid to take one of those 'What your handwriting says about you' tests! So, I leave you with some very classy handwriting - not mine! How does your handwriting shape up? And do you hand-write letters?
P.S. Back in the day I wrote, and received, love-letters which I certainly hope haven't been kept for posterity! Too embarrassing!

8 comments:

  1. I love the idea of you and the grandchildren writing letters to each other! So lovely. I'm afraid I hardly hand-write anything these days, maybe a few notes for books or an occasional page when I'm away from home, but usually everything is typed. It's so much quicker! But I still have letters my very best firend from uni in South Africa wrote to me when I moved to London and then Paris. I occasionally re-read them and it takes me back to that time. I'm not sure I'll ever go back and re-read the e-mails we now exchange. Now that is sad!

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    1. Yes, that's exactly it .... emails are just deleted after a while. And paper is so tactile and there is often a scent to it as well .... and the thought another person has touched it, held it, even kissed the envelope goodbye.

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  2. Lovely post, Linda. My friend and I used to write to one another, on and off, for almost twenty years, despite her never living more than 15 miles apart from me. She has passed away now, but I have boxes of her letters and when I read them they instantly take me back to that time. I see, through her writing, how we matured from teenagers to being mothers with children of our own. I will never throw them away. They are too precious.

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    1. Thank you, Victoria. I hoped it might evoke memories for readers. Your friend must have been very young .... and while I don't like the thought of making money out of private friendships there has to be a novel in your story.

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  3. Like most of us these days I rarely write letters but that's lovely you did it with your grandchildren - I'll have to remember that when mine are old enough to write. I still treasure the month's worth of daily letters written by my then fiance (now husband of 34 years)leading up to our wedding when he was still working in Denmark and I was in Cornwall getting the wedding organized. Angela Britnell

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    1. Oh yes, do remember the writing to grandchildren thing. I let all wrong spellings go because they were doing them so fast, so spontaneously, and with such fun .... the latter being priceless. Treasure those letters. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. That sounds a fantastic game for all ages, Linda! I sometimes jot little notes in cards to friends but can't remember the last time I sat down and wrote a proper letter. When we were first married and my husband worked offshore, he was only allowed one 20 minute phone call per week, which wasn't long when starting out on married life, so we wrote to each other weekly. I've kept all our letters but have stipulated that our sons only read them once we've both passed on!

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  5. Goodness, you're brave leaving love letters for your sons to read! My husband and I kept ours to one another for years but we burned the lot so as not to embarrass them some many, may, years hence ..... got to be positive here!

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