Elspeth Penny – Writer, Director and an Arts-in-health specialist
When did you last receive a proper handwritten letter? What would you feel like if one came through the post this morning? What would it mean to you?
Well, according to Royal Mail, letter volumes have decreased by a third in the last decade and went down 4% last year. There’s more parcels delivered than letters. So, we have this thing called ‘universal delivery’, which means if I put something in a post box, it goes to anywhere in the UK for the same price as anywhere else. But how long are we going to have that for?
So, what I want to do is celebrate and reinvent the handwritten letter. It’s about the trail we leave and the future we wish to shape. 1915, August the 16th. Flo wrote to Sergeant Jones, great-grandfather of my son’s headmaster. ‘It is with extreme sorrow that we thank you for your kindness in acquainting us of the death of our dear boy.’ She continues to say how grateful she is of the decent soldier’s burial he got and how cruel it was that he got shot down by a sniper, without a sporting chance. And towards the end, she writes, ‘If you have the time at your disposal, would you let me know if my dear boy spoke after he was shot?’ This is still in the hands of the family, who treasure it.