Fear and clothing: Oh, inky artefact, I am forever ‘Yours ...

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Fear and clothing: Oh, inky artefact, I am forever ‘Yours Faithfully’

A weekly column on the charms and vagaries of fashion

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I have forgotten how to write. I mean this in the prosaic sense of writing. When I take notes or dare to leave one on somebody’s desk, my scribblings most closely resemble the scratches of my lately deceased dog. The lovely Rex Phillips has left runes on all our doors as testament to his existence. My handwriting is like his begging to be let in, as if it too is desperate to be let in to the glorious world of literacy as represented by beautiful penmanship.
Look, it was never going to be any great scribing shakes, this handwriting of mine. I lack the patience and the grace to form my letters well. It probably has something to do with the communication between my right and left brain. Nothing a bout of occupational therapy couldn’t fix – but that sort of thing was not de rigueur when I was learning to write. And now writing is pretty much finished for me – I am attached to a keyboard by osmosis. Touch typing is second nature and carpal tunnel syndrome a reality. I have a friend who has taken to wearing two tennis wristbands in handy flannel to avoid chaffing on his laptop. It has come to this. Someone sent me a handwritten letter two weeks ago. The letter was followed up by an e-mail. Had I seen the original missive? I had not. Readers of this column will recall that I was experiencing the delights of totalitarian state meets outspoken fashion brand at the time. The letter went missing. Relegated to junk mail. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves – he had attached it to an e-mail. But a handwritten letter nonetheless.
When I finally fished the letter out from its electric tomb and opened it, I found I was beaming. The sheer delight of a handwritten missive seems hard to match. The writing was carefully formed and executed with a fountain pen. A fountain pen. Think about that. Perhaps at heart I am just an unreformed luddite. Battered as I am by texts, and missives of a brief and often elliptical nature – where everything is shorthand for everything else, grammar is fleeting and emojis have replaced most words (although eternal blessings should be heaped on the poop emoji visionary), I was struck by the very real value something like this artefact could have in one’s life. Imagine such a thing as a correspondence. Executed purposefully in ink. The very act of sitting down to write something in a considered way, slowly, without mistakes, is deeply romantical (as Anne of Greengables would say.)
Obviously, I printed the letter out, and kept it on my desk. I keep on looking at it and smiling. I say nothing about the thrill of the actual post – and the joyous anticipation of a stamped, addressed envelope hand-delivered to your post box. The best kind of paper trail.

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