I recently found this ancient pad of letter writing paper, faded and partially used, and just touching it brought on a plethora of memories.
Hardly anyone writes letters anymore, so they don’t know the exquisite tactile pleasure of heavy ridged paper, with uneven deckled edges, to be taken out of the pad carefully, corner by corner. I used to love writing letters to anyone who expressed the slightest interest in receiving one. People I knew, people I didn’t know- pen pals as they were called- and people I had just met at the bus stop. (Just the one actually, but I was about 15 and she was ancient – possibly about fifty, when I think about it now. We were waiting for a bus to Oxford from a little village called Benson where my aunt used to live. The wait was very long, the day was hot, and we got talking. Before I knew it I had her address and we wrote to each other for several years after that! Unfortunately I can’t remember anything else about her now. I threw all my correspondence out when I was 21 – I so regret it now!)
So – I wrote a lot of letters. This made me a very easy person to buy presents for. Fountain pens, stationery, stamps. Finally I received a typewriter for my 21st birthday. Bliss. I could still use beautiful paper, and everyone could actually read what I had written.
But back to Churston Deckle. It isn’t made any more. It was always expensive and elegant. And one Christmas I was lucky enough to receive a box of the largest size, lilac in colour, 200 sheets and a hundred matching envelopes. I was over the moon. Especially when I opened the box I saw that the first 100 sheets had been engraved with my address:
95 Brunswick Street
My mother’s closest friend at the time, Edyta Kukuk, had gone to great trouble and expense to get me something that fulfilled all the criteria of the perfect present: a complete surprise, something totally luxurious and unnecessary, aesthetically beautiful, yet uncompromisingly useful and life enhancing!
This is the only present I remember ever getting from her. What a winner!
I wonder if anyone still has a letter that I wrote on it? Now that would be a find!