Sunday 19 November 2023

Letter writing

I honed my writing style when I lived in New York. Distant from friends and relatives, in a pre-internet time, letters were my method of contact.

Lots of letters. Alone in my Staten Island flat, I had time to bang out four or five letters a week. All hand-written. To a variety of correspondents, including Dolores. Doing my best to make them more than a mere relation of facts. Mostly by taking the piss out of everything. Including myself. Pretty much the way my pub guides were later, when the digital age intruded.

Digital didn't kill the analogue me. Adopting a computer made my letters far more legible. My handwriting has always been crap. And word processing let me refine my letters more. Copying bits between different letters, too. In the 1990s, I still wrote dozens of letters a year. Long, personal communications.

How long are emails?

Mine, sometimes pretty long. And composed like a letter. Maybe not always with quite as much care as in physical ones. But sometimes. Me being a writey sort of person.

I miss exchanging long letters. With a week - at least - between posting and reply. Longer with Dolores in East Germany and me in the USA. The need to condense everything into a burst of description and feelings. Like communicating by radio with a distant spacecraft.

I miss having to explain so much in a couple of pages of text. Without any immediate back and forth to concentrate my thoughts.

I miss physical letters. Just for the delay involved. Making me more expansive in my written conversations.

I miss letters.

(And numbers, sometimes.)  

I just finished my one "proper letter" of the year. My Christmas missive to a few select friends and family. Written the way I used to write letters. In the old days. And printed out on paper, the way our grandfathers used to.

Sometimes I was sipping on Ballantine's XXX Ale while writing. Without realising it was a Mild.


Russell Gibbon said...

Ballantines XXX was a Mild? Crikey. I have a clone recipe for it, not sure where it is, whether YOU provided it or I got it elsewhere on the internet . . . I will now fish that out and hike it up the "to brew" list.

I completely agree about the "loss" of proper letterwriting . . . I too scribbled a lot, back in The Day.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your travel narrative posts here because they read like letters. I wish blogging hadn't gone into decline because there used to be more.

Anonymous said...

What was Ballantine XXX like was it like a pale mild?

Ron Pattinson said...

The heritage of Ballantine XXX Ale was effectively Mild Ale. Not that anyone called in Mild in the 20th century.

Anonymous said...

Thanks go guess Mild travelled further beyond Ireland and Britain.