I wrote a letter the other day. A real letter on paper with a pen using words that were hand written. A personal letter to an old friend who doesn’t really do the web or e-mail thing.
I took out my good pen, the fountain pen with the gold nib I was given for 25 years something or other. Carefully I turned the ink chamber, filling it with the specially approved ink from the fancy bottle that came with my pen and began to write.
At first I found it hard to make the pen work. It seems that my fingers are more used to tapping when I make words these days and the horizontal movement required to form words through handwriting simply wouldn’t come. I persevered though and soon, through the magic of ink on paper, my fingers loosened a little and the words began to flow.
'Do you remember that time when we both...'
How different from keying, how liberating.
Not easy though. I hardly recognised my handwriting after years of simply signing my name, but even that began to improve as I got into the swing of drawing letters and words. The old flourishes weren’t quite as well formed as they used to be and the mistakes were a pain - squeezing in missed letters isn’t easy on paper.
'and then old man Jenkins picked up his hat and...'
It didn’t take me long to get into it and soon I began to enjoy the physical experience of making something with my hands, something that I could hold, actually pick up and read, something that I’d made myself to send off in an envelope that wasn’t simply a card - Happy Birthday, Best Wishes, Good Luck, So Sorry.
'Did you ever find that fiver? How did...'
All those years at school learning to write – ‘Andrew’s handwriting needs to improve’, the hours of practice to perfect joined up, the pride when the teacher commented in my exercise book ‘good handwriting, well done’. Does it matter any more? Does anybody care if you have good handwriting?
'I still think of Sarah and Melanie, the twins...'
Popping the letter (5 pages from a writing pad – recycled of course) into the envelope was a real pleasure. I was even looking forward to licking the seal on the envelope and the stamp until I realised that you didn’t need to do that any longer, they are both self adhesive.
It took me back to thank you letters written to distant relatives, enforced by parents to scrawl at least a page, and those other letters, the ones proclaiming undying love, the job letters, the day to day business and bill letters of daily life. The letters of just a few years ago.
I can’t remember the last time I received a letter, a proper one. Not a notelet or a card, an e-mail or a text, but a full blown folded paper letter full of words and news and kind regards.
'P.S. Write soon...'