I come from the generation of letter writing and not just thank you notes
to aunties who gave one a whole sixpence when one visited, or years later slipped a book token into a birthday card. We were expected to share our news with lonely relations and send greeting cards from seaside destinations.
Life is very different now. My laptop groans with facebook ‘friends’ and details of everyday lives, with Linkedin trying to be bright and meaningful asking me to ‘approve’ sand surfing or some other unlikely ‘skill’ that I just know the person in question would never do! And of course my own folly, blogging and emails. ‘What’s wrong with a phone call’ groans my eldest son?
He could be right, of course, especially as I have just spent an hour deleting emails. But where to draw the line? Does anyone else keep ‘special ones’ on their system well beyond any reasonable sell by date?
A few harp back to 2007 when we had not been down here long. Some are from each of my sons inviting me to family events or spurring me on to relax and have a happy retirement when all I wanted to do was to carry on working.
I certainly can’t delete those from my favourite cousin who at 93 still calls me ‘dear octopus’ in memory of a stage play he saw many years ago in London and based on ‘I capture the castle’ by Dodi Smith. He sends me his latest news and anecdotes about family history with copies of ancient photos of relations.
Two from 2010 harp on about my comedy gigs, when I was trying to sell my ‘set’ to someone with deaf ears! One had to be so thick skinned to do this and then, frankly, I didn’t like the person I started to become. Yes ‘shoot the messenger!’
More recently I find three from lovely people who had sadly passed on, a writer, a poet and a film maker. Maybe I kept their messages to remind me of just how they had been such good friends not just creative, but selfless and giving. Then there are still several from two people who had helped me edit my book. What a lot of work they put in on my behalf.
So what did get deleted? Well quite a lot from people with whom in the end I realised I had nothing much in common. A few from people I would have liked to stayed in touch with but who gave up on me and two who insisted we must meet up but who never found the time. Fair enough!
I can’t make myself delete enthusiastic ones from grandchildren, who also phone me, which gave details of passed exams and potential uni places. Several others from my favourite unofficial poetry mentor, who also sends me his poems for scrutiny too!
So finally 200 avoided judicial pruning and, like the grapevine in my garden, and my over-enthusiastic virginia creeper, cling on, I’m rubbish at deleting emails but at least I won’t be in danger of unfairly ‘shooting the messenger’. Lucky too that I decided ages ago that life is too short for text and twittering.
‘Shooting the messager’ is said by some to come from ancient Greece. Others believe that it first appeared in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’. When I googled it I got several ads from travel firms jumping on the band wagon. Information overload?
Oh for days when a crisp envelope and a neat stamp had so much appeal.