Living in the 19th century

In Others
November 22, 2009

Cosy day today, despite the horrible blustery weather. Went to a pub I like in Hampstead – arrived about 11.30am when it was fairly deserted, left at 2.30pm when it was getting unpleasantly crowded. I never do this sort of thing without a project but I don’t know why: for the price of a cup of hot chocolate I sat for three hours, read, planned, and wrote a letter to a friend in America. Yes, a letter. With notepaper and a fountain pen. Really pleasant and very calming.

It’s interesting. When I was a child I had a book (probably still have it somewhere) predicting the future of ‘electronic mail’, this futuristic idea of what might happen to letters. It still predicted, though, that we’d be writing letters to one another, just sending them electronically. I don’t know about you, but I think I don’t really write letters much anymore, in email or otherwise. Email is more like a continuous conversation than an edited, pored-over, considered set of thoughts about one’s life. Maybe it’s the immediacy – being able to send and receive multiple times in a day makes the exchange more conversational. Maybe it’s being able to cut and paste and quote from each other’s remarks and easily browse back over what’s already been said. Maybe it’s the lack of formality: instead of finding a time and place to sit down and compose a letter, emails are written at the same computer where we do everything else, where we always feel hurried and frazzled.

In any case, another old-fashioned pleasure I’m rediscovering is that of finding that I’m pretty much ready for bed at 10.30pm. This is so new to me that I’m honestly wondering if I’m actually getting a cold or something. But maybe it’s just… getting up early.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *