Filed under Miscellaneous, I have a small archive of letters, postcards and handwritten notes; all of some significance to me. Old Postcards and airmail letters are mostly written in what my University tutor disparagingly called a ‘small, crabbed hand’ in order to pack as much information as possible into a limited space. They come from all over the world – USA, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Europe. Letters from a distant cousin in the USA span more than 60 years. Emails are immediate and reassuring but do they carry the same sense of place and person?
Because all the writers of these communications are known to me so is their handwriting… some neat and round, some elegant and sloping, some small and spidery, some calligraphic and all instantly recognisable. Handwriting announces its author. My favourites come from children whose developing script can be followed over the years. Character speaks from the pages.
Recently my friend, Liz, (Blog here) decided to experiment with publishing her book journal directly from the page. In its beautiful brown and sepia colours it was inaccessible to me. She kindly reversed the process to black and white and instantly I could hear her voice behind the writing. What a pleasure. In the same week a postcard arrived from son’s friend, holidaying with his wife in Japan. I couldn’t read it so I showed it to various friends who struggled to decipher the script. Is reading handwriting a lost art? Thankfully my 11 year old neighbour, Evie, came to my rescue. She read it perfectly, even the tiny postscript written along the edge of the card. Whew! Good to know the schools are still on the ball.
Most handwritten communications are now inaccessible to me but I hope they keep arriving one way or another.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the speed and accessibility of electronic communication which can carry a welcome immediacy. I also love my diminishing archive.
Do you enjoy handwriting? Do you still use it or is it a thing of the past? If you use it, for what? I would love to hear from you.
Welcome to Daisy who is a new addition to my ‘Help! How do I do this?’ Tech team! She will be editing and posting this blog with help from Liz. Many thanks to everyone for so much support.
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated by Juliet Stevenson. I loved this account, set in the nineteenth century, of evolution, botany, enterprise, exploration, female sexuality and love. The novel ranges from Kew to Philadelphia to Tahiti. The narrative mainly concerns two sisters: one plain and clever who longs for a man who will fulfil all her needs, mental and physical, and the other beautiful and self-sacrificing. They are the daughters of a semi-literate but extremely fast-thinking and intelligent, not-very-honest English father and sensible Dutch mother. The author presents the two life options available to middle class women of the Victorian era in a beautifully imagined and erudite novel. Juliet Stevenson could not have been a better narrator. I am tied up in knots trying to describe this book. If you are interested look it up!
A Long Way Home by Eva Dolan, narrated by David Thorpe… interesting detective story set in the market gardens near Peterborough in the UK and concerning the appalling conditions endured by migrant workers from Eastern Europe and beyond. Reminded me of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Thought provoking.
Perilous Question by Antonia Fraser read by Sean Barrett… a blow by blow account of the Great Reform Bill of 1832. Useful background reading for 18th and 19th century literature.
A Room Full of Bones by Ellie Griffiths narrated by Jane McDowell. Not one of her best.