Archive for December, 2013

Well – we’ve done it. By the skin of our teeth (as usual) we’ve posted off our Christmas cards just in time for the Christmas delivery deadline. The process was much speeded by the application of address labels in preference to hand-writing the address on each envelope. This is an eminently practical thing to do and therefore – understandably – it is a widespread practice.

In fact, most of the Christmas card envelopes we get bear our address blandly typed within neat white rectangles. I confess, this saddens me a little as, given the opportunity, I take great delight in recognising the writing of the sender, before opening a card. I love the individuality of hand-writing and, sadly, it’s ‘public’ use seems to be on the way out. Not surprising really, as most of the means of communication we use on a regular basis require use of a keyboard, so there is little need to write anything beyond lists and ‘post-it’s.

I guess handwriting must be taught in schools as part of teaching children to read, so it’s unlikely to die out completely, but I wonder how much a person’s writing will reflect their personality if they don’t write very often? Will writing styles all become so similar they end up indistinguishable?

I recall my writing being ‘corrected’ at each of the many schools I attended (I was Forces child, not a reprobate… not really, anyway) and I tried all sorts of different approaches including rounded or skinny letters, slanting or straight, closed loops or open, added flourish or puritan plain. I even dallied with strange descenders which flicked forwards then backwards, ending tiny loops on the ends – mercifully, that phase didn’t last long. Rough hand-writing seems to run in my family – my dad’s was well-nigh illegible, and his dad’s was – well, challenging!

Without intending to, I’ve ended up with two quite distinct ‘styles’:  a hideous barely formed scrawl when I’m making hurried notes for myself, or a strange barbed-wire flurry of strokes for ‘public consumption’ comprising odd spiky characters and – unaccountably – a looped descender on a lower-case ‘b’ (where that came from, I have no idea!).

Hate to think what either says about me – thank goodness for address labels!


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“Honestly, your writing’s terrible!”

Grandfather looks up from the fly he’s tying – a March Brown, he told me as he settled at a table covered in small boxes of silks and feathers. “What are you reading, lass?”

“It’s this” I waggle his Army Field Message book in his direction. Army Book 153.

“I had been shot in the shoulder when I was captured.” he reminds me, exasperated.

I sigh. “I know, Grandfather, forgive me. It’s just… well, I really want to be able to read it”. He looks at me – carefully excluding from his glance the book in which he’d scribbled bits of his life in 1916 . “I’d like to find out more about your time in PoW camp.”

“Well, lass.” His hands fall from his work. “I came back. It should rest there.”

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