I listen to the radio a lot, mainly because I drive, a lot, which is why my inspiration for this blog often comes from having heard something that has struck a chord with me, leaving me feeling sad, happy or indeed sometimes howling with indignation.
Today’s emotion is unfortunately sadness, as I found myself listening to a perfectly enjoyable radio interview with Michael Palin on Radio 2 which touched on writing letters – fan letters to be precise.
Chris Evans, the presenter, commented on how ‘old school’ performers who used to appear on a previous show he presented would always write a letter afterwards thanking him for their invitation to appear. Something he said just didn’t happen nowadays.
This got me thinking about just how few letters are sent nowadays and how little joy the ones we do receive bring to us, corporate missives and bills in the main. How sad I thought that courtesy and manners are slipping along with the art of letter writing
What a coincidence then that upon arrival at work I found that I had received a handwritten letter, probably the first that I’ve seen this year and gosh did it stand out; mainly I think because the writing itself was beautifully presented and grammatically correct.
Personally I think that handwriting is a wonderful way of gaining a personal and unique insight into the sender by painting a picture about them that is sadly lacking in today’s world of quick emails and tweets.
I remember being forced by my parents to write endless thank you letters to relatives every Christmas and birthday when I was a child, looking enviously at my sisters beautiful writing and comparing it to my spider scrawl, never realising that in the future my skills would only be tested on keyboards and computers, mobile phones and tablets and that my poor handwriting really wouldn’t matter anymore to anyone but me.
My parents were great letter writers, their courtship was conducted long distance and their correspondence provided them with the means to express themselves to one another in a way that would prove impossible face to face and boy did their letters rock. Many years later both have passed away but their carefully preserved conversations remain an affectionate and living testimony to a deep and abiding love.
So it is fair to say that my emotions fluctuate between deep affection for the lost art of letter writing and a sense of sadness that later generation’s just won’t ‘get it’. Don’t get me wrong, I am not slating anyone. Indeed I wonder if I would have even noticed the fine detail in today’s handwritten letter if I hadn’t been prompted by the radio this morning.
But one thing I do know is that even though the contents of that letter were not what I wanted to read, their method and delivery softened the blow and allowed me to continue my day with a wry smile and a burning desire to put pen to paper again.
Now where do I keep my envelopes?