Like many people who were young before the internet arrived, I wrote lots of letters. From being about nine or ten I had penfriends in countries all over the world. Some of my penfriendships were only short-lived, but some continued for years, a friend in Norway, a friend in France who I went to stay with, and then she came to stay over here, a friend in Singapore who I ‘knew’ for nearly twenty years, and also visited. I also had a cousin who lived in Germany, Singapore and Hong Kong and we corresponded all the time she was away – she lives in Norfolk now and we still keep in touch but these days it’s phone and email!
It was obviously a very different world then, everything was slower and took more time, so a question asked in one letter would take maybe a month to have a reply… sometimes I would have replies to things I had obviously been interested in but by the time they came I couldn’t quite remember what I’d been wondering about! I know some people kept copies of letter they sent, I never did that, too many letters to write without doubling up!
I still have lots of correspondents, but these are done through email and social media, and to be honest, I wouldn’t want to go back to handwriting – partly because my handwriting is so terrible! However, it’s not just the handwriting, it’s the speed and ease, and the conversational quality you get from the way we keep in touch these days. it is different, I know it is, but I like the way pictures and photos can be so easily attached, links to other things – blogs, recipes, photos, music can be so easily included. Many people can now actually speak to their friends through Skype and other similar clever things.
I lost touch with all my penfriends, except my cousin… some just drifted away as no doubt I might have drifted away from them. Some became involved in other things, marriage, families, national service, careers etc… I moved house a lot when I was doing my degree and maybe they didn’t get my mail, or maybe they moved and I didn’t get their letters with their new address…
I still think about my far away friends and hope their lives are happy and successful – maybe one of them might see my name her and remember me and get in touch!
Postscript… maybe i should write a novel through letters… I used to enjoy reading stories told in this way when i was young… thinks…
Here is my latest publication, my first Radwinter novel now available in paperback: