I was a keen letter writer. I used to adore the ceremony of it, writing the date and putting the weather in brackets underneath (this, I should add was for personal letters and not for business). I had a selection of stamp blocks with various coloured ink pads and I’d select a stamp appropriate to the person to whom I was writing. The dictionary, thesaurus and encyclopaedia were always close to hand for those last minute checks.
I often mourn the loss of the letter, but though I am thought rather quaint in some of my traditions, even I feel a trifle archaic if I dig out the writing paper in its worn leather case.
I keep all the letters I received over the years from family and friends. Some of them have little treasures tucked within their folds: a beautiful autumn leaf, a pressed flower, pictures and recipes cut from magazines; jokes and anecdotes people had thoughtfully included.
Ahh, the excitement of receiving a letter in the post; the thrill if it came from abroad with an exotic stamp, feelings the ping of an email can never match. But the worst thing about communicating by technology is the propensity for loss, all those gems of insight gone forever.
For a while the post office used to sell small books of greetings stamps with sticker seals for the back of envelopes. I had tons of them and still use the sticker seals whenever one of the more obscure mottos is appropriate. ‘It takes two to make a neurotic’ – who knows when I’ll get to use that one. I still use stickers to seal envelopes, just to make them a little more special when they reach their destination, and I buy picture stamps from the post office and try to keep the cartoons for children, animals for pet-loving friends, images of great people are saved for more discerning recipients. I do wonder sometimes if anyone notices, as attention to detail seems to be a thing of the past.
I store written communications from my family; seeing the familiar handwriting of a grandparent, or other long-dead relative releases a flood of precious memories.
The act of writing requires concentration: forming legible words – without the aid of spellchecker – placing punctuation in the correct spots to ensure the words make sense – all add up to a skill. The world spins faster now. Everything must be delivered instantly – even faster! Ironically, all those gizmos and gadgets take up so much of our time, there’s no time left for the little niceties of life.
Communicating by technology is here to stay; but, perhaps one day in the future, it may become fashionable to write letters and everyone will start again. I do hope so.