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The letter is in the post.

March 1, 2015

Dear everyone,

How are you?  I’m fine, sitting in my kitchen, granola base slowly toasting in the oven, looking out into the street through a veil of rain/sleet/dirty window.

I use the word fine loosely.  I have discovered it’s my ‘go to’ word, whatever the circumstances.  My shield if you will, against more questioning.  Fine has many meanings, and for the most part doesn’t fit me or my state at all, although I quite like the idea of containing a specified high proportion of pure metal.  It can also mean satisfactory or pleasing (how are you? I’m pleasing… hmmm).  Anyway, I’m fine, thank you for asking.

I wrote the above paragraphs a week ago.  I burned the granola.  Today is the 1st of March.  Is it the first day of spring?  I am assuming so since no one ever mentions March and winter in the same sentence (see what I did there?).  This is my view right now, sitting in bed, post Archers omnibus, pre getting up and putting on day time clothes in readiness for, you know, the day time.

view from reclining position

view from reclining position

Not too shabby.  So, I am ‘fine’ today as well.  But finer than when toasting granola to charcoal last week.

In the last week I have read one of the best and most thought provoking books I have ever read, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel (thank you Sarah).  Perhaps I am susceptible to the idea of apocalypse and renewal of the world and human species thereafter, because god knows it doesn’t have a lot to recommend it right now, or maybe it’s just a damn good read, but it has got me thinking and pondering and waking up to things that matter and things that don’t.  On pondering life before virtual obliteration of humans a character in the book thinks about how he used to put ‘thx’ in an email to say thanks, as though leaving out three letters would save some time for something useful or more important.

It made me think about something I have been thinking about recently (so much thought going on in this head it’s getting very crowded) which is that we, the humans who are awake and not too stupid (ukippers and isis need not bother) should be writing, by hand if possible, more letters.  All our communication is on email or text or Facebook, or blog…  What if the apocalypse does come and there is no more technology?  Those clouds of information, thoughts, questions, agonies will simply dissolve.  Does it matter for posterity? Possibly not.  But a hand written letter, landing on the door mat with all the junk mail and bills… what excitement, curiosity and feeling of mattering might that engender?  Do you scan the postmark with a little frisson of Miss Marple doing detective work running through you?  Do you know immediately who it’s from by the handwriting?  Do you rip it open hoping for a cheque?  Posterity schmosterity, do it for the now.

Writing a letter, even the most banal, requires effort and thought.  Remember those thank you letters we had to write as children, and which in vain we tried to get our own to write?  They meant something to the recipient.  More than a text saying ‘thx’ anyway.  I have a bunch of letters that I wrote to my Dad, that he kept.  Mostly asking for money (what was I thinking?), but they are like a diary in some ways and clearly meant something to him otherwise why keep them?  My adolescent self writ large in ink pen on foolscap.

Remember Basildon Bond writing paper?  Then upgrading to the really posh stuff with water marks and ridges?  Remember the joy of stationary?

So, I will write a letter today.  To my mother because she taught me good manners and right now is very far away when she would much rather be at home in her cosy cottage with Nancy, watching the crocuses emerging from the chilly Yorkshire soil.  My mother writes letters, illegible mostly, but proper ones on paper, in an envelope with a stamp on it.

Who will you write to?

Lots of love,

Betty. x



7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2015 7:28 pm

    I had BOXES of old letters up in my storage room before I moved to the most recent “casa az”. And I dumped them all. Just because I couldn’t see myself ever sifting through them. At least with email I can search with less hassle.

    But I do know what you mean. I used to write 10 page letters (as you may recall) just babbling on about this and that. Like a diary but then I’d send them off. Hmmm… last time I was at a post office was to pick up an Amazon delivery.

  2. March 3, 2015 9:02 am

    I still have many of your letters – I will read them again one day, and send you snippets!

  3. March 3, 2015 8:11 pm

    Love it, as always. You’re a wonderful writer Lizzie, and I look forward to regular evidence on yer Basildon Bond as well as yer blog. Xxxx

  4. March 3, 2015 10:19 pm

    oooh the pressure Heidi! i will do it though, that’s a promise, just might be a wee while…

  5. Sophie Walters permalink
    March 5, 2015 2:25 pm

    U R rite! shud rite more letters!! xxx

    Remember letter writing at New Hall? Hours searching for something to say that wasn’t just I’m fine. x x

  6. March 10, 2015 1:51 pm

    I got a hand written letter in the post today – I BEAMED as I opened it. MORE PLEASE!
    Shawn, I still have many of your letters – couldn’t keep all as not enough house room!
    Yes, Sophie, I do indeed remember – Dear Mummy, How are you? Please can you send cake.

  7. March 10, 2015 9:19 pm

    I would write more letters, but no one could read them. I’ll stick with word-processed ones until the apocalypse. And don’t sweat the granola.

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