Today I came across this and knew immediately what I wanted to write:
The smartphone vibrates from the bottom of my handbag and a familiar sound smashes through my thoughts. I have mail. Suddenly I long for a red light, somewhere I can quickly look and see what message I have received. It has rudely pushed it’s way into my world and will not leave until it has been checked, like a toddler who wants a drink or a banana, it will not give up.
A letter is polite, it patiently waits on your doormat for you to return home and nestles amongst the bills, with their ugly plastic windows and the takeaway menus, all garish and shiny.
A proper letter, one that you know will be worth reading is easy to spot. It will feel thick and weighty in your hand, it’s envelope bulging slightly, letting you know that it’s contents are heavy with news.
If it were sent by me it would be written on white, pale blue or, at a push, cream paper. The kind that is thicker than normal and has a slight rough indentation on it. The pen would always be blue ink, from a fountain pen. It would be the kind of stationary that you know is stored in a box, with the pen and kept especially for writing to special people. The envelope will be neatly written and the stamp will be straight and preferably a picture stamp, that has required a trip to an actual Post Office to buy.
The only thing a proper letter demands, quietly and politely, is that you make an effort to give it your sole attention. After all, it has made an effort to look it’s best and so you must repay the compliment.
There has not been a red light and there has been nowhere safe to rummage in the dark depths of my bag and retrieve my unread message. The phone makes another sound, the same as the first, but somehow it sounds louder and more urgent this time, as if to say “I am important. How dare you ignore me. Did you not hear me arrive the first time.”
You open the bills and quickly discard them, the takeaway menus go straight in the recycle bin as you flick the kettle on. Finally you sit down with a cup of tea, you have removed your shoes and coat and finally you are ready to give your patient, polite letter the attention it deserves.
Sliding your finger under the stuck down flap, the sound is rich and inside you find words, lots of words. More than one piece of paper and both sides full with thoughts, stories, news and things that make you smile. The sender’s voice is in your ear, they are sitting next to you, you can hear them.
When you have finished reading the first thing you do is read it again. Finally feeling lifted you slot it back in the envelope and put it on the mantelpiece. Somewhere you can see it and read it again or remember to reply or show it to someone else, reading the highlights to them.
I park the car and jump out, grasping the bag as I do, I hunt for the door keys and at the same time my phone. I unlock the door and then the phone and stand with my coat still on, waiting for my 1 unread message to open, my bag is slung on the floor.
It is from Apple. Would I like to buy another piece of computer equipment that I cannot afford? Ummmm….NO.
When was the last time you received a proper letter and more importantly when was the last time you sent one.