Old Fashioned Letter Writing


I’ve just read the best thing in ages. It’s a series of letters between a friend and me aged 19.

Now, I’m not that old. We could well have exchanged emails. But it was early-doors for email-o-rama for every single correspondence and the done thing was still to put pen to paper, use a lot of exclamation marks (!!!!) and BIG LETTERS to explain just how great something was. I’d embossed my thoughts with a Pritt-sticked cutting from a newspaper, a selection of ker-azy colours and some stickers. It’s a fabulous-looking document, full of absolutely breathless accounts of my life and times and the exact state of my finances and love life.

She wrote back on a postcard, an annotated copy of IMAGE and even some kitchen roll. We had SO much to say. We’re not in touch now. Although I suppose I could look her up on Facebook.

Carefully refolding the letter and putting it back in my Stuff To Keep Drawer got me thinking about how – almost overnight – we’ve stopped writing to each other. I can’t help feeling that despite the fact that I could instantly call, text, poke or tweet any number of friends around the world, it’s never going to give me the same thrill as finding a letter waiting for me on the doormat. The same sense of intimacy as knowing someone’s handwriting, the way they write their ‘Rs’, the trace of their scent or the distinctive notepaper they used.

Remember fancy paper? Remember admiring someone’s handwriting, and trying to copy it? Remember sending postcards, writing to your cousins, having a pen pal, writing your diary? Even having a writing blister?

Luckily, there’s a bit of a stationery renaissance going on at the moment. Smart London gals all sport Smythson notebooks, with their distinctive gold edges. Moleskin notebooks have never been more fashionable. Paperchase does a roaring trade in Nice Notebooks. And my own personal quest for a Lovely Pen continues. Currently, I’m flourishing a Lamy fountain pen. It’s highly impractical – my fave tan handbag has a few unsightly black spots from various leaking incidents – but it’s just so good to hold it. Now all I need to do is to start that letter. Any takers?

Jenny Coyle is out buying stamps, follow her @missmitford

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