Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The romance of the handwriten letter

The longest lasting result of spending the first half of my teens unhappily locked up in a crap boarding school has been an obsession with receiving mail. Every morning the miserable boarders would rush from the refectory, still chewing cold carpet tile toast to congregate around the wooden alphabetical pigeonholes where our post was sorted. I can still remember the heady bliss of finding a letter or, better still, a brown paper parcel from home.

And today, even in the era of electronic communication, there’s still something enormously satisfying about getting proper mail in the post, especially with a handwritten address. Believing in both manners and giving what you enjoy, I send copious thank you letters on a collection of carefully hoarded picture postcards and on my own die stamped Smythson letterhead.

My friends are particularly wonderful on the letter sending front, maybe because many of them also went away to school, and I keep each letter that they send. Which is why I was devastated to discover that my memory box of mail, containing letters, personal invitations & photographs that have been sent to me here in Manhattan was partially destroyed by the employee-caused flood at Manhattan Mini Storage in Chelsea last week.

love letters; Verdura; I’ve peeled apart all the letters, but many were written with a fountain pen and the ink has run beyond redemption. I’m going to have to iron flat all those that have dried and then glue back together the old Verdura box I use to store them. There’s no monetary value to the damage caused but since when has emotion been measurable in dollars? I do hope that incompetent employee feels the weight of his idiocy.