Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The lost art of letter writing

I have to confess that modern methods of communication have me foxed. There was a time when I could make a phone call to a family member. It was quite a simple system. I would dial the telephone number, the phone would be answered by a human being (often the person I had dialled) and we would have a telephone conversation. It worked the other way as well. People would ring me and I would pick up the phone and answer. Such an easy system. Everyone understood what to do.

When I make a phone call now a machine usually answers. Alternatively I hear a multiple choice option list which requires pressing another number followed by a long pause for repetitive music, and eventually a human voice if I'm lucky. Half the incoming calls are for people who used to live where I now live, or from a machine (which needs an eternity to think what to say) and perfectly timed to coincide with a meal time.

Skype needs all parties to be assembled together and gathered around a well-lit computer screen with a good internet connection. The excitement of a skype call when it works usually results in a close up of the most excitable/assertive small member of the family. Alas, this potentially brilliant system doesn't work for me either.

So - I decided to resort to another tried and tested method of communication dating from the 19th century in England. I wrote a letter to my 6 year old grand-daughter. This was carefully handwritten in large print on one side of A4 paper on the assumption that it could be read by a literate child with a spare 3 minutes. 

I was surprised to get a reply within 2 days. This itself beats replies to e-mails or messages left on ansaphones by a week. And, I can read and re-read the letter lots of times.

It's so good I've decided to share it on the basis that it speaks volumes of what impression I have made on her. I'm assuming that deep down I appear to her to be a very busy person. I could be wrong. Perhaps I'm the closest thing to a slimy sea-creature that she has met on land...

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