Before she broke her hip, my mother was going through old letters. She rang me and asked whether I wanted to keep my letters to her. “Nope,” I said, “I didn’t even know you still had them, throw them out.”
I’ve been spending a lot of time in my parents’ house since then and I found the big black bag of letters in the dining room waiting to be sent for recycling. I started to leaf through them. The first thing that astonished me was that there were so many of them. I wrote a lot of letters from airports. And then from when I lived in Brussels and before that in Rome. I seemed to spend every spare minute I had writing letters [and I know that I wrote to friends as well – I was clearly a writing machine]. They had, I regret to say, no great literary merit but thematically they seemed to cover: looking for jobs; asking for money and thanking my parents for money already received. I was certainly reminded of the extent to which my loving parents had bankrolled my early years in the work place. No wonder they were so relieved when I finally managed to get properly paid employment as opposed to my time doing traineeships and internships.
I let the letters go into the bin. I suppose they stopped when email got going, sometime between 1995 and 1998. Imagine, I am from the last generation of people who routinely put pen to paper to share news. Who would have thought?