The name's Bond, Basildon Bond (December Reflections 24)

Today’s prompt is: Paper. My mind is as blank as that sheet of foolscap headed with my name that heralded the start of every school exam.

Hmm. Paper. There isn’t much paper in my life these days. No newspapers, few physical books, I do most of my writing with electrons, can’t recall the last time that I handled a bank note, and even fish and chips no longer come in newspaper.

Newspapers, unwieldy things. I always had a love/hate thing going with newspapers. As a kid my parents bought a tabloid “red top” with Labour Party leanings. I read it daily because in those days I would read anything and everything that I could lay my hands on once my week’s library books had run out. I am not sure that the actual news content ever really impacted upon me but I loved reading the Perishers and Andy Capp strip cartoons, The Old Codgers letters column, and the small ads in the Saturday paper.

Sometimes there would be a copy of the local paper in the house but I don’t remember that as being a regular occurrence. I think perhaps it only came in when it had immediate relevance. My sister and I took part in local shows and pantomimes in the Junior Chorus and our photograph (aw, cute little twins!) would be published sometimes.., making appearances as “Little Dutch Girls, “Hula Girls” etc.

One paper that certainly did not appear in my childhood home was the Green ‘Un, the Saturday Sports paper. Not even wrapped around the Saturday chips the following week 🙂

The first paper that I bought for myself was in my teens, when I bought the weekly New Musical Express with my pocket money, avidly soaking up all the news about The Monkees etc.

In adult life I favoured a left-leaning Broadsheet. I still do their crossword but access it online. We do print it out onto paper copy though!

The “hate” part of the equation comes from those times when I have featured in a paper and it has always been with a mis-quote or written up in a way that made me feel intensely uncomfortable – and then there are the photographs. Oh, my good heavens, the photographs! (See post passim)

Enough of newspapers. Don’t you miss letters? Real letters, hand-written in ink from a fountain pen, secreted in sealed envelopes, carrying interesting stamps and franked in interesting places? I know that I do! (Do you remember when postage was cheaper if the envelope was left unsealed?)

I remember well the daily anguish of waiting for the postie, to know if I had a letter from my boyfriend who was away from home with the RAF. He had a good hand, always wrote in ink, on Azure Blue Basildon Bond paper, with matching envelopes, and he always started his letters with “My Dearest, Darling Beth“. He was the first to call me Beth. I was 16.

Over the course of around 18 months I collected a shoebox full of love letters, tied together with green silk ribbon.

Things went awry and could not be rescued as the Royal Mail had gone out on strike. Communications were broken. I lost my man. I imagine that if we’d had email back then that communications could have been restored and I might have retained that relationship for longer. Who knows -but I have often wondered if things might have panned out better. I kept the letters for years but burned them in a fit of properness after I was married to number 2. The letters survived husband no 1 (even if the marriage did not). That ought to have told me something!

I regret destroying them. It was a special relationship and they were special letters.

Who keeps emails in the same way? I know that I don’t. Physical letters on real paper were so much less ephemeral, even if they are now known as ephemera.

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