Adventures in Letter Writing No. 67: Zoom Talks

Our little lounge-cum-dining room area has had a bit of a makeover and not in the traditional sense. I don’t think it’ll return to normal any time soon, and definitely not until November at the earliest. Very excitingly I have started to give Zoom talks all about The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society and the adventures we have had along the way and, well, I couldn’t just have a plain ol’ wall as the backdrop, could I? No, I knew there’d be great decoration potential in all the first day issue postcards I found at our local junk shop, as well as my box of treasured letters, the old suitcase full of correspondence tied up with ribbon, epistolary novels, postboxes, bunting, and writing sets. Also the painted Society sign I made for the front of our festival gazebo fits perfectly across the wall (and actually, really is the ideal storage solution).

I really like the postal “feature wall”, as unusual as it is, and to be honest 1) no-one sadly has come or will be coming to our house for a while, and 2) I’ve always joked that we’re never going to live in a Show Home. I always say more Discovery Centre which I now get ribbed about by husband. But the Zoom backdrop I love! And when I do re-set the table and we sit down together for dinner the postcards make a great conversation starter. There’s a fascinating array of designs and history and artwork and events featured on them.

Zoom is quite the phenomena too, isn’t it. Who’d ever heard of it before this year. Whenever I hear the word I just tend to break out into that song by Fat Larry’s Band. I know it doesn’t come without its problems, and at heart, for chatting to friends one to one, I still prefer the old landline, but in an age where you can’t get together for an office meeting or go to hear someone give a talk I think it is an amazing bit of human ingenuity and one in the eye for coronavirus. “Yeah, we’ll just sidestep you there, Covid-19.” So I say “Bravo for Zoom!”

It was lovely to be invited by a local WI group to give a talk about THLAS back in August, which has led to two more this month and another next. Although sad not to meet in real life, and also to take all the letter writing bits and bobs to play with, it has meant the geographical reach has been much much bigger. For the Unofficial Women’s Institute Penpal Exchange talk this month there were people from all over the UK and abroad. One lady had set her alarm for basically the middle of the night to join us from Canada. Thankfully I received a lovely letter from her saying “Thank you very much for your great presentation – well worth setting the alarm for 2:15am!” It felt hugely cosmopolitan having people dotted about the globe listening to my talk.

It’s wonderful telling people all about my Society and how it started and what it’s about and some of the funny stories and amazing moments along the way, as well as answering questions and hearing about people’s own letter writing stories and adventures. It won’t ever replace meeting people in person but it’s a pretty good second place. We’ve had such a lovely giggle at the ones so far. I mean, the host dressed as a postbox helped but even without that there was lots of laughter and smiles.

And every time I get together with people to talk letters and letter writing it always confirms what I already knew, that they are so important and we all need them in our lives.

So if you have a group on Zoom that would like to hear about The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society then do get in touch. The dining room wall is staying decorated like this for a long time yet (just don’t tell the family).

Dinah

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