57 minus 34: Missives

Posted: 14 July 2021 in 57 minus, writing
Tags: , ,

I used to write letters.

I came across a beaten up, scuffed pad of writing paper earlier and it reminded me that… I used to write letters. And then I stopped. And I’m not entirely sure why.

Oh, there were no doubt very good reasons, and after all, in today’s… no, wait. Let me start again.

I used to write letters. No, honestly, I did. And not only way back in history, back in the days before mobile phones, and before emails were a more common way of communicating.

I wrote letters. Personal letters.

So, no I don’t mean the formal letters I’d send to companies, or that – while at work – letters that’d be typed up by the secretary for my department.

But yes, of course, when I wrote those letters, I rarely actually, y’know, wrote them. I’d dictate them instead, and then a secretary would type them up, return them to me to check it said what I’d intended it to say (not necessarily what I’d said on tape) and then I’d sign them before handing them back to someone for sending out. I remember letter folders, like scrap books, each letter on a separate page, no doubt a legacy from the days when everyone used fountain pens and the card would absorb any stray ink from the signature.

But no, I don’t mean those letters, I mean I’d write letters; hand write them.

I started as a kid, of course, with ‘thank you notes’ I was obliged – by my parents – to write. To grandparents, to uncles and aunts. Even on one occasion to my brothers, though I don’t remember why. My bar mitzvah? Possibly. It sounds like the sort of thing my parents would insist upon.

But I’d other letters were written as well. Though no love letters, or none as far as I know. It’s possible that somewhere, there’s a sentimental note pouring out my heart, now stored beneath loads of paperwork in somebody’s shoebox in somebody’s attic, or in somebody’s shed.

Long forgotten about, I’m sure, because I don’t even for an iota of a moment believe that for anyone on the planet, I’m the one who got away. I’ll believe there are lots of people who think lots of things about me, some complementary, some not, but that?

No, I don’t believe that. And even if that were the case, they’d have to think it without any billet doux from me.

But yes, writing letters. I barely, faintly, remember maybe having a pen pal for the briefest moment in time. I now have no idea who it was, not do I even faintly recollect in which country they lived. Possibly France?

This in and of itself should tell you that the experiment in having a pen pal wasn’t… a success.

It was going to Manchester that turned me into a frequent letter writer. Oh, there were many correspondents at the time, the most regular – for once, the word actually applies rather than frequent – was my older brother. A letter would go from one of us to the other every week or so. So we’d end up writing a letter every two or three weeks. Which mean, over three years, we had dozens of letters.

Mike’s letters were packed with silliness, and ‘slice of life’ stuff, and stories about what he and his girlfriend were up to, and then later as he was recovering from his heart surgery, they became whimsical, and full of gentle humour, of rhyming doggerel and wordplay.

I loved receiving his letters, as much as he said he loved getting mine. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed writing letters as much as I did when we exchanged missives.

These days, no doubt, siblings keep in touch by text and WhatsApp and Skype and any number of messaging apps. Then? It was by public phone (which are up my meagre grant) or… by letter. And, obviously, we chose the latter.

Every so often, over the years, I’ve been tempted to write someone a letter, just for the hell of it. But I’ve rarely done so. I’m out of practice, and my hand would ache after writing a page or two, I’m sure.

But the temptation is there. And although I’d need to pick up a new writing pad – the scuffed pad I came across earlier is water damaged and torn and… yeah, no. I’d need a new pad.

And I probably won’t use it more than once or twice, but I’m tempted to pick one up… I really am.

I used to write letters. I should start doing that again.


See you tomorrow, with… something else.



Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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