The lost art of letter writing

My wonderful Dad arrived today. He arrived an hour early! He arrived alone in Yorkshire for the first time..   He looks great! He is in good health and in good spirits…

As always he arrives armed with wine… one cheap plonk, one very nice …

As always he arrives with memorabilia from home… 2 recipe books signed by their authors – Michel Roux and Rick Stein…..

And a letter.

A beautiful letter on beautiful Japanese paper.


It is a letter from me to my Mum and Dad on my Mum’s 50th Birthday. They were skiing in Austria at the time so the letter is addressed to the Chalet Landhaus Moos…. I love that!

The date is February 1991.

I was at boarding school.

There was no such thing as Facebook then. I don’t even think we had email? We did have a computer lab, but we only used it to learn to touch type…

There was no such thing as a mobile phone then. We had one phone per boarding house and I think we used to get to use it once a week in the lower years and possibly once an evening in the senior years… I forget. And we had 10p. A 10p call didn’t last very long.

So I wrote.

I used to write to my parents at least once a week. I used to write to my Aunty Pam frequently too… and also my Grandparents and Great Aunts… and those wonderful friends called ‘pen pals’…

And they all used to write to me. Regularly as clockwork; Dad once a week. Grandpa once a week. Aunty Pam once a week. Great Aunt once a term with a care package of home made coconut bars. Pen Pals… sporadic.

Dad says there are boxes of letters at home.

He asked what he should do with them.   I said to burn them…

Until I read the letter… and started laughing!

“We have to wear cloaks to Cav”… Very Embarrassing!!!!” Only the girls from the Iron Ring will know what that means… but I can hear my 15 year old self in my mind!

“Today’s big Scandal… Cleaners treated for stress because of the loo door”… and I remember the drama as if it were yesterday. Someone (who shall remain nameless) turned a lock on a loo door from the outside so that it looked locked. Apparently the cleaner was distraught … it was the little things at boarding school. It is always about the drama…

“Fran’s brother came to visit… he arrived at 3.30pm and left at 7pm. He is major tall…. He even went down to Cav and bought us all food! He was so nice”… Maybe I had a crush on Howard?!

“I got 89% in my art exam.. which is great as I thought it wasn’t very good”… I loved art. I must draw more.

But the best bit…

“Latest – OH NO, NO (underlined and capitalized)… BAMBI WANTS TO CALL HERSELF ALEX!!!!!!”

I named my sister ‘Bambi’ when I first met her aged 20 months… Family and close friends still call her that… According to the letter, I didn’t think Alex suited her then.. and it still doesn’t. She will always be Bambi. Or Aunty Bambi.

The letter.

The lost art of letter writing.

Maybe because at a young age of 10 I used to write so much in letters, that’s why I love social media, am a frequent updater on Facebook and Instagram, love writing this blog. I am used to sharing news… even if mundane… with the people in my life.

The lost art of letter writing. Such a shame to have lost it to something so transient… scroll past and you missed it.

The lost art of letter writing. Such a shame to have lost that excited feeling of running to the post table after break to see if we had letters! The joy when we did! The excitement if the letter was in a package!   We shared letters and news between us… gathering round to find out the latest word from outside of the school…

The lost art of letter writing. A beautiful ritual. Full of thought, care, time, love… expression of pen to paper.

So Dad asked me again… What should he do with the boxes of letters. Did I want them?


Did I want to write a book ‘Letters from Ali’ he asked…. May be… one day.

In the meantime, it has made me want to write letters more. Spread joy and excitement in to people’s lives… because I have to say I still get that little jolt of excitement on going to the post box when you find nestled in amongst the flyers, pamphlets (for you HB), magazines, invoices and statements… a little coloured envelope with a handwritten address….. I return to being that little girl dashing to the post table again, with knee high socks and a red alice band…

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