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    Or, the lost art of the hand written letter:

    Red postbox

    I have always championed the hand-written letter. Nothing says thank you quite like someone actually taking the time to write to you the old fashioned way and there is something so much more personal to a card in the post than a text or an email. Although, at least a text or an email is a thanks. As for people who don’t do thank yous at all… that’s another rant for another time.

    Hand written thanks is a dying art. Snapchat has our memories vanishing within seconds, tomorrow’s generation will laugh when I tell them I’ve got a box full of cards and letters sent to me by friends, family and lovers, ranging from my school years to just last week.

    In fact, it was at school that I developed my love of letters. My dad always got so much post, but I got nothing. In sympathy, he used to let me have his junk mail, which my imaginative little child-brain would pretend was very important. Then my friend at school started writing to me (even though we saw each other every day) and I got real letters, addressed to ME. Actually they were addressed to Kimberley Anne Benedetta Susan Mary Monique Elizabeth Willis, which was the name I’d decided I was rolling with back then.

    At boarding school a few years later Sundays were the allocated Letter Writing days. We were ordered to sit in a cold classroom and write letters home, just so that our parents knew we were a) at least mildly happy and b) alive. I loved writing letters home just as much as I loved receiving letters from home. Especially if the letter arrived in a jiffy bag full of chocolate and Disco’s Salt and Vinegar crisps, which made me the most popular girl in the playground for a good five minutes.

    Paperchase has been my go-to card shop for many years. I have been known to go absolutely mental in Paperchase, buying £80 worth of cards in one giddy sweep of their flagship London store.

    But recently, I’ve ventured to pastures new. I bought these lovely cards from Dicky Bow, having stumbled upon them through the medium of Twitter.

    dickybowNow I’m confused. I am whining about social media for ringing the death knell of the postable card, and yet I wouldn’t have found Dicky Bow without Twitter. Better have a long hard think about what my stance is. For now, I’ll continue balancing here on this fence.

    Over Christmas, I had a flashback to 1989, when I was obsessed with Spirograph, the geometric drawing toy that kicked ass. Whatever happened to Spirograph? It was time to bring it back to life. I hunted down a set on Amazon and then the little kit of cogs and biros arrived and I had a gleeful afternoon creating my own cards. Spirograph – literally the best way to spend a rainy day. That should be their slogan.


    Pretty. Fun. Pretty fun.

    I’m spreading the art of card writing like measles at a children’s party. Loved ones who never used to bother, now send me lovely thank you cards. Obviously my considerate, thoughtful prose landing on their doormat a few days after they are kind to me has them wanting to return the gesture. What definitely does not happen is they receive a card from me, lament: ‘Oh, not another bloody thank you card from Kim, can’t she just send a text? Better send a card back or she’ll bang on about etiquette and strike us off her Christmas gift list.’ No, that is definitely not happening.

    But were it not for me and my band of fellow letter writing brothers (and sisters. Mostly sisters, let’s face it. G has to be dragged towards the letter writing table ((yes, I have one)) to contribute to our Christmas thank you cards) (Is it grammatically maverick to put a bracketed sentence inside a bracketed sentence? I went there.) then books like this might not exist:


    Letters of Note, by far the most wonderful gift I have ever received. If this isn’t on your coffee table yet, buy one now. It’s a compilation of the world’s best letters, written over the last few hundred years, from lover to lover, Elvis fan to President, scientist to child. It makes me cry with happiness at the wonder of the human race every time I read it.

    And, what’s more, it’s got my name in the back. Letters of Note was crowd funded and my current husband (I like to introduce him as my ‘first’ husband) contributed to the realisation of the project. In return, along with all the other hundreds of people who helped get the book published, he was allowed to have his name in the back. But because he’s so selfless, he put my name. Better Better Willis. Look out for it. I’m very humbled to be, in a roundabout way, involved in something so tremendous.


    If we’re not careful, Facebook, Twitter, SnapTwat and all the rest, will kill the written letter. There will be no sequel to Letters Of Note. And that’s a sad prospect.

    Please write. Write and thank your aunt for that tenner she gave you for Christmas. Write and thank your mate for taking you out and getting you pissed on your birthday. Spirograph a swirl all over their lovely little hearts.

    Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 15.27.02

    Better Better Willis. Better than Jim Willis. Better than Angela Invincible Wilson. She can’t even spell!


3 Responses to The Spirograph Comeback

  • Palmersan wrote on January 17, 2014 at 4:10 //

    I’m a ardent fan of the hand-written letter. My sister and I were always made to write our thank you letters on Boxing Day, say up at the dining room table grumbling as our hands ached – a tradition I’ve always kept. Now I’m off to order a Spirograph and Letters of Note – and maybe a splurge in Paperchase too. Thank you KW!

  • Kimberley Willis wrote on January 17, 2014 at 4:29 //

    Ha! Love it. Here’s the spiro set I bought. You get a nice tin too. Either I’ve got a bloody good memory and you have a soft spot for tins, or I’ve got a terrible memory and that was someone else. Either way, tins are great.

  • Alexandra wrote on January 18, 2014 at 8:59 //

    Haha the packages from home sound familiar… my mother used to send letters full of percy pigs, which we had to hide in case they were confiscated by the tuck police! Wouldn’t stand for that now! x


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