Recently I’ve been thinking about letters. I don’t mean the letters you get in the post now because when you’re a grown up in 2021 all you get are people telling you how much you owe them, people trying to sell you stuff, letters about pensions (is it just me that never understands anything to do with pensions but seems to get a lot of letters about them?) or responses from the council about the latest parking ticket you’ve disputed. Ok, the last one might just be me…
I’ve been wondering whether people write letters anymore? Do they actually sit down with writing paper and a pen and write an actual letter by hand? With their address in the top right hand corner and in their bestest joined up handwriting? I guess with all the technology we have at our disposal and the price of stamps nowadays (yes that’s right I am so old I now moan about the price of stamps) it would be weird for people to write someone a letter which they then have to take somewhere to post then wait a couple of days until it gets to its recipient. We have phones and texts and emails and WhatsApp and Messenger and those youngsters have Snapchat and Tik Tok and…yeah I actually don’t know what I’m talking about anymore. My point is, I'm not sure people do write letters anymore and that’s a bit of a shame.
After we moved in together Mr D’s nan used to write us a little note and send it in the post every month for quite a few years. She always used to start it with “I hope you are well. I am fine at time of writing” and I really liked that in her tiny neat swirly writing. She would tell us about what she had been up to that month at Silver Threads (some crazy adventure gang for old ladies) and maybe write about things going on in Padworth. We spoke to her on the phone and saw her often too but I really liked getting her little notes in the post.
My parents (I say parents, basically it was my mum, dads don't care about letter writing) brought me up to write thank you letters or cards after birthdays or Christmas. I still do that in the main and I make sure Chad Logan does the same, much to his disgust. He’d rather be playing Roblox. I think it’s good and right though. If people have gone to the trouble and expense of getting you a present you should say thank you. Chad understands that and I don’t think he has a problem with the sentiment, he’d just always rather be playing Roblox. I know he could email, message or text them but I just think there’s something a bit more special about going to the trouble of writing a note. I don’t always agree with that when he’s actually in the long drawn out process of him writing them but he always gets there eventually.
I am very old and lived my formative years in the 80s and 90s when we didn’t have the internets...I know! That was actually a thing! Seems so weird now...Anyway, I digress, because we didn’t have the luxury of being able to keep in touch with people instantly, writing letters has been quite a big part of my life over the years in various ways.
One of my first and certainly my longest letter writing buddy is a little girl I met on holiday in Majorca in the 80s. My grandparents had a flat in Santa Ponça and we used to go out there on holiday in the Summer. We had the absolute best times. While we were out there one year I made friends with this girl Lisa McEwan (totally her real name, no need to change it, no shame here!) who was a little bit younger than me but much cooler. Lisa came from Aberdeen so she spoke funny like my mum, but different. We got on really well and even had our own catch phrase which I can’t for the life of me remember why but was “La-di-daaaaaaah” (with varying numbers of vowels in depending on how crazy we were feeling). We exchanged addresses and used to write to each other often, like real life actual pen pals. We had a couple of Summers where Lisa’s family were at the flats at the same time, I remember one year Lisa’s sister Natalie had a broken arm. No fun having a broken arm on holiday when all you want to do is run around and jump in and out of the pool. We had fun anyway though. Well, Lisa and I did, maybe Natalie didn’t enjoy it so much!
Lisa and I wrote to each other for years. I remember vividly one letter from Lisa telling me all about how she’d been allowed to get an “acid perm”. To this day I still don’t know what an acid perm is but I knew I wanted one because it sounded like a cool thing to have. Obviously I wasn’t allowed one.
Well over 30 years later and we don’t write letters to each other anymore but we do still keep in touch, we’re friends on Facebook and send Christmas cards. Like me, Lisa is also married with children and no longer sports an acid perm but when I see photos of her grown up I just see the same little Scottish girl I met in Santa Ponça in the 80s. Laaaaa-diii-daaaaaaaah!
When I was at school in the 90s, you know, this decade that we’re currently in, the amount of letter writing that went on was insane. I don’t know if it was a girl of that time thing or a girl’s school kind of thing but there were letters flying about all over the place. Not literally flying. I wasn’t at Hogwarts or anything. I think it probably started around the time MZP arrived. I don't remember writing letters to anyone I was at school with before the dawn of MZP.
MZP was a new girl. She wasn’t just any old new girl though, she was a new girl who had moved to the UK from… AMERICA. Like actual America off of the telly. She’s not actually American though. She’s from all over the place. Born en France, moved to Canada, moved to America, moved to Twyford. Seems like a natural journey right? Anyway, in walked MZP on her first day at Kendrick wearing a purple skirt and white tights and I thought “that new girl in her weird clothes with her funny accent is going to be mine”. That sounds a bit predatory when I say it like that. Anyway we soon became very good friends and that’s when the teenage letter writing really kicked off.
MZP and I would spend all day together at school then come home, talk on the phone, then
write letters to give to each other the next day. Now I’m writing that down it actually sounds a bit mad. To be fair MZP didn’t have a TV so I expect she had loads of time in the evenings but we had a TV and I had a lot of Byker Grove to watch. I’m not sure when I had the time for writing letters. But write letters I did. I still have her letters and because she’s a collector (aka hoarder) like me I’m sure she has some of mine too. We would talk about everything…mainly Courtney Love / Hole, our innermost feelings about being friends with each other,
the complicated dynamics of other friends, the mean girls at school and of course, boys. I remember clearly a full debrief via letter about the first time that posh Reading Boy from The Year Above who caught her train had spoken to MZP. This had to be done via letter rather than over the phone in case any parental types were listening.
We also had to fully examine that time after school when we bumped into some Reading Boys in Broad Street outside Top Shop. The unrequited love of my life/that week, Adrian Hartington-Lollipop (not his real name because if it was that would be mental) was there. Naturally I panicked because he was super mega cool and I was wearing white ankle socks with my school uniform. Everyone knows white ankle socks are sad and I should have been wearing either no socks with my DM school shoes (ouch) or black ones at least. I basically yelped like an injured puppy and then ran away rather than talk to him or risk him noticing my white socks. With the gift of hindsight and a little maturity, I know now that Adrian wouldn’t have even noticed my socks or even noticed me if I’d just kept my mouth shut. Idiot. 25 years later and that bizarre reaction still makes me cringe. I'm literally doing that cringe face right now. That ridiculous event had to be dissected via letter too so that I could learn from the situation and never behave so ridiculously or wear white ankle socks again. Obviously I continued to do both.
So, there were letters a plenty on lined A4 paper that we should have been doing our homework on, written in purple biro, sparkly pens, covered in doodles and stickers and little fish. When we’re rich and famous they’ll probably convert those masterpieces into our memoirs. Look out for more cringeworthy stories about me not being able to speak to boys in any kind of normal manner in that best seller, kids! Probably best to wait for it to come out in paperback or download it to your Kindle when it’s on a 99p deal, don’t pay full whack, it won’t be worth it. The first one will be " Kizzi V & Mayo Z-P: The Red Jumper Years" followed by the sequel "Petit Pois & The Pink Witch: The After Dark Years". The sequel will probably be worth about £1.99 on Kindle to be fair, way more interesting although still not that wild. We were Kendrick girls, don't you know?
I also wrote letters to boys. Now this sounds way more exciting than it actually was. They were just boys who were my friends, there wasn’t anything saucy going on. We have already established that I was unable to talk to boys in any kind of alluring way. I’ve also made it sound like there were loads of them, there was literally about 2. My brother was entrusted with the delivery of these letters as he was also a Reading Boy and basically I just liked bossing him around (no wonder he moved to New Zealand). I think he quite liked it though because it meant he got to talk to the older boys at school who he thought were cool (they weren’t). God knows what nonsense I put in those letters. I remember talking about how I had started drinking tea. I thought that was super grown up and sophisticated. My god I was / am boring.
As I previously mentioned I’m a bit of a historical artifact preserver (hoarder) so still have lots of other letters from people from the 90s including some from my greatly missed friend Vicky. I would have always looked back at those letters with that warm nostalgia feeling anyway but now she’s not with us they are so much more important. Funnily enough I have one from her about an argument she had with MAdams and one from MAdams about the same argument with Vicky. How great is that? It was a massive argument, all horrible and messy like teenage girls spats were at the time but it all worked out in the end. I think. I really miss those days.
Last but not least… Mr D and I used to write to each other when we first started “going out”. I still have those letters too (much to his horror) and we have recently made the decision that we’re going to burn them because we can’t risk the embarrassment from beyond the grave when we’re dead and gone and the boys are clearing our stuff out.
In fact, where are the matches? I need to get on that right now!