Wednesday, 5 October 2011
I have posted before with other blogs I adore, but this one has something special about it.
Letters of Note is a collection of papers that have nothing in common except being in some way funny, touching or extraordinary. It frequently fills my eyes with tears of laughter or emotion (beware, desk readers), two recent examples being this hilarious response to a botched speeding ticket and this gorgeous reply to a small boy from a children's TV star.
I have always been fascinated with letters. By the time I engaged in any sort of correspondence beyond the birthday thank-you note, mobiles, texting, email and instant messaging were all at their height. But so many of my favourite novels were filled with scribbling heroines, sisters swapping revelations via telegrams delivered on horseback and true love exquisitely expressed with only pen and paper, that I wished I had some reason to write to someone. My diaries may have provided a physical written outlet, but there's nothing quite like receiving a letter just for you.
Email and Facebook messaging are too instantly gratifying, too quickly back and forth, to replace the feeling of a long-awaited, carefully thought out reply on paper. During my first year at university I rather pathetically tried to resurrect the letter, demanding siblings and friends write to me in my pokey little halls room, but it never caught on. By the time the information had arrived, it was no longer relevant - everyone within reach of Facebook and text already knew. But as such I do have a few lovingly preserved missives from my sisters, mum and boyfriend at the time, so much lovelier to look at than a hastily-typed email.
Letters of Note is a treasure because it is a sort of online museum of correspondence. People bother to write and mail a letter for all sorts of reasons - gratitude, anger, sadness and usually, love. There is a letter from a man, dying of Leukemia, saying goodbye to his three-year-old son and one from a 26-year-old on death row thanking a reporter for believing in him (as well as lighter reading - see this fake memo from an irate Disney executive.)
What I love most about this blog is that what makes letters 'notable' is not simply their place in history or fame, but the sentiment within and the honesty or eloquence used to express it. It has inspired me to write more of my communications down on paper. Letters can be cherished, re-read and passed on to future generations and it seems a shame to lose that simply because I was born in the wrong century.