In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree is in the House of Commons!
Or maybe in my MP’s constituency house. Whatever, he most gracefully thanked me for the copy I gave him, so if any of the other 600+ MPs would like to read it, they know who to go to! (Unless he’s left it at home with his wife.)
I wonder whether reading it will influence his foreign policy, or views on aid… or AIDS for that matter. It wasn’t why I went to see him (that, I’m afraid, was about educational cuts and if I were prepared to see my blog go political I could write for an age about the unfairness and inequality of those). The experiences I had living in Lusaka taught me a lot of lessons about poverty and malnutrition, about the impact of HIV/AIDS in sub-saharan Africa and about how wealthy we in the West are (even those of us who aren’t ‘wealthy’ tend to have more than we need). I wonder whether my MP will take any notice of this at all?
Going back to the letter… I love headed notepaper: it makes me (the recipient) feel irrationally important. Partly it is having the logo and partly the weight and watermark of the paper. It makes my paltry efforts with a standard sheet of white A4 and a typed address (in a fancy font, if I remember) seem so pathetic.
But most of all I know my joy in the receipt of this is simply the effort of sending a letter rather than an email. The old method has a marvellous way of making me feel good. I suspect this is because it takes a shade more effort to write and send, so I feel that little bit more special. For a few brief seconds my MP will have been thinking only of me as he wrote my name at the start. In comparison with the hundreds of impersonal letters I get (just look at the pile of junk mail advising Mrs Withenay that she could get a better mobile phone deal / price for my house / insurance offer) it is wonderful to see Quink on paper. A letter involves handwriting – often not the whole thing, but at least the signature is in pen.
Letters have become so old-fashioned. Whilst we were in Zambia, my mother-in-law would write about once a fortnight (I have a marvellous collection of letters from her). They were always handwritten from beginning to end, normally penned at the breakfast table at an unearthly hour in the morning while she waited for my father-in-law to wake up. When I was growing up it was always the handwritten envelopes that were the most enticing. I don’t think that excitement when the post falls onto the mat has lessened over the last thirty years!
So today I’m making a little vote for the posted letter. It remains the best treat of the day.