Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Letter 7

This week I wrote to my grandfather, who I have always called Pa Allen.

I was very lucky to grow up in an extended family that included my maternal grandparents, my mum, my aunt, uncle and their son, Ben. That doesn't include the dozens of people, who due to the quality of rural life in Lincolnshire, are pretty much parents too. I have very little choice in this, as a very early boyfriend discovered on a date to the local pub. Man after man came up to ensure that my honour was being protected - after each I was questioned as to if they were my Dad - blithely I kept saying "no" which was true as none of them were. My date got quite flustered about this. Perhaps I should have informed my poor date that it would take an Act of God for my father to walk through the doors, being deceased n that.

However I love Pa Allen very much. He's a unique person. He looks quite like a Werthers Originals Grandpa, but his mind is on quite another plain than that of toffees. Firstly because he has always had his mind on "higher things" such as Churchill and the Spalding Gentlemen's Society. Secondly because he has had a number of strokes now, so the vagueness with material life that was always inherent has got vaguer. Last Christmas he wore two pairs of trousers for a week ... why? Because he'd forgotten you had to take a pair off before putting another pair on! So there are lots of things to take into account when writing to him.

Normally I try to send him postcards from whatever thing I happen to be doing, if I've gone to a place, or done something out of the ordinary. Postcards have less writing. A letter is neccessarily longer. I try to write in shorter sentences, and I try to tell him things he'd find interesting. I told him about my recent Numismatic work and the second hand bookshop I went to on holiday. I'm not sure if he can still read properly, so I try to make my hand writing clear (very difficult for me). We'll see.

Like all relatives I know he worries about me a lot, so all troubles are LEFT OUT OF THE LETTER. I don't want to write to burden him, even though I have disgusting flu which is forcing me to not work. Stupid flu. He shouldn't know that. We also have very different day to day lives and it's hard me to catch him at home to speak in the evenings. We had a good spell where he rang at 7 each morning, but I'm not a lark and wasn't at my most conversational.

To make sure he knows it's from me, I'm going to add some photos, just as a little clue you see. I'm also going to write properly more often, then he'll be used to it.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Letter 6

Without sounding too much like X-factor, this week was Love Letter Week.

I have never written a love letter as an adult. I remember some early teen lovenotes at school that signed off with "time for tubby bye-bye". The sender shall remain nameless. I've never loved someone enough to want to sit down and write out how and why I love them so much.
If you know me at all, you'll know I like to do some research - write just from the heart, pah! A complex set of research must be done. Last week when me and the beloved were on holiday in Northumberland we went to Barter Books in Alnwick and I got (amongst other things within my ten pound budget) the Oxford Book of Letters. What surprised me was the actual paucity of love letters in there. There was one from the wife of John Adams (future American president) which whined at him to write longer letters despite the fact he was fighting in the revolution. It is also told him how he was running his campaigns wrong and what he ought to do instead. Interfering wife. In a much more saucy way were the letters between Nelson and Emma Hamilton, where he longs for her body (she cannot imagine how much). He also says he misses their little girl. It's both cute and a bit risque!

With failings in the research I turned to stationary. PINK I thought, is clearly the stationary colour of love. I bought a baby pink A4 sheet, a pink metallic envelope and a hot pink fountain pen. Then I went to Maison Blanc thinking that French=love surely, anyway it is quite near work. I sat down and bemused the waitress by then writing this very important missive.

I think the contents are private - sorry! But I tried to explain all the things that make me love Daz the most. Sometimes a bit listy, which I think is down to my inexperience in love-letter-writing, but it was excellent to sit down and think about how much I love my realtionship. So I implore you, write your beloved a love letter this week. I often take those closest to me for granted and maybe we should all take some time out to say thank you for being who you are right next to me.

If your partner is a dick, you should dump them and write a love letter to a stranger instead.

Love Letter Writing 101

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Letter 5

This week, is THANK YOU week.

I try to say thank you to people as often as I can. 'Thank you for being my friend', 'Thank you for holding that door open' and silent thank yous all the time for the oppurtunities I'm lucky to enjoy. Sometimes, things happen out of the blue that make you super grateful for the kindness of other people ...

I've only discovered Etsy relatively recently. Anyone who knows me would expect wild abandon buying beautiful things from all the talented people (such as my friend Katie's shop). However I have been relatively restrained. One thing I did buy and love is a yellow scarf with pea pods on it! You can see it to the left. Yellow, white polka dots and the greenest of pea pods. It is the happiest headscarf in Leeds! In the same shop, were a set of cat plates, which I had in my basket for months, thinking I love them, but can I really? Can I?

Well what should happen, but they arrived on my doorstep. To be honest, I was super confused - did I pay for them in my sleep? Has my card been stolen and they are delivering the things of my dreams to me in my sleep? Are the leprechauns bringing cat plates instead of pots of gold? No ... something more extraordinary happened. The lovely Leslie of PicklesandMaynard saw I had them in my basket for ages and in this capitalisitc, egocentric, selfish society of ours - she just posted them because she suspected I liked them. How beautiful is that? I thanked Leslie online at the time, but always wanted to do more. So here is the more ... I sent my second 52 Weeks of Mail package. To say thank you for my beautiful gift, hoping that one of these goodies at least will strike a chord with her, and that as a whole it will show how very grateful I am!

I was lucky to be able to carve out the time this week and have a peppermint tea in the Corn Exchange - I chose there at the suggestion of my friend Steph. Central Leeds isn't that amazing for cafes, but she said it was generally quieter there, and it was. A really nice Oasis where I could spread all my crap out, write and cogitate. It also feels a bit like being inside a Zepellin!

Nothing beats saying thank you to a stranger from inside an airship!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Letter 4

After writing to a stranger last week, I thought this week I would continue, mostly because I got a lovely card from Nara, Japan, through Postcrossing. The lady included her address on the card and I got a lovely warmth from her, so I thought, YES - you receive a letter!

I started writing on Wednesday this week, talking about my life. I did feel slightly guilty about sending a letter rather than postcards, so I included a couple of recycled ones: a vintage one of Edinburgh and one I received in a letter/stamp exchange with a girl in Russia. I hope she likes them. I also added a sample from Neals Yard Remedies and since it is nearly Christmas a festive badge. I then remembered Christmas isn't that popular in Japan (being shinto n all), so explained it. I also did a quite invlolved description of a lecture I attended - perhaps too complex for a Japanese lady I don't know. (Anyway Rory Naismith did do an excellent lecture at the Winton Institute in Oxford, where I just finished my internship.)

I finished writing on Friday on holiday with my gentleman in Berwick-upon-Tweed.

This has been a recent trend of not having enough time to write as long a letter as I would like, so the last two were written in two parts. I think this is OK, but was not part of the deal so this week I am going to make a CONCERTED EFFORT to write my letter in one go. I did love using this nice writing paper. I bought it in Tong Garden Centre a couple of years ago and have used it for thank you letters and also occassionaly for work at NYR when people have requested a sample or some infomation, I've sent a little note on this paper. The paper has rosemary in the bottom corner and the backs of the envelopes have ALL the herbs. And I do love herbs: sage, rosemary, chives, chamomile, rosemary and tansy!

For the first time this week, I thought about the posting of the letter - have things gone too far you may ask? Probably. However, that didn't stop me buying the postage in the postoffice, but then insisting to Daz that we found "a pretty postbox". The recipient is unlikely to wonder where I posted her letter - I did explain about 52 Weeks of Mail in the letter, but I'm not sure she'll follow up and look here. If you do ... Hello Noriko! This is me posting your letter in Alnwick, Northumberland. The postbox says V R which means it was built in the reign of Queen Victoria ...