I am a big fan of the Letters of Note blog which publishes ‘correspondence deserving of a wider audience,’ including letters from all walks of life between people known and unknown. I highly recommend it for a daily dose of the best (and worst) of humanity – and often in the most surprising way – and can’t tell you how many times I’ve flicked across at the end of a long day or night for the latest installment, and then gone to bed moved or inspired for having taken a few minutes to read a little bit of someone else’s history.
This beauty arrived on my Facebook page today and it embodies everything that I think makes a great exchange memorable:
- a departure from the tone of correspondence normally expected between these two professionals (a lawyer and a judge)
- an obviously well considered attempt (by the lawyer) to be persuasive for his personal benefit and not his client’s, using humour – and quite successfully too.
- a response from the addressee that completely lifts the reader to another level. You expect – maybe – a particular answer, but you actually get quite another.
- The answer itself changes the dynamic of the letter by enhancing the original premise – that of the importance of culture and family.
Thanks to the instant gratification of sharing delights between like-minded individuals across t’interweb, I was introduced to Letters of Note (I think by Tess?) where author Shaun Usher posts ‘Correspondence deserving of a wider audience.’
This correspondence takes the form of letters to loved ones, not-so-loved ones, bosses, fans, idols, constituents, mentors, criminals and more. He has letters from Joan of Arc to Einstein; Pixar’s Pete Docter* to a fan, or the touching thanks of a young boy enjoying renewed health through the discovery and isolation of insulin as a Diabetes treatment. The originals of each letter are posted, along with a transcript which is often necessary due to handwriting or language.
Mr Usher aims to provide a letter a day, and yesterday’s contribution was from the Comedy Script Editor at BBC Television, Jonathan Main, who thought a new script he’d read wasn’t much chop. He wrote in 1974:
I’m afraid I thought this one as dire as its title. It’s a kind of “Prince of Denmark” of the hotel world. A collection of cliches and stock characters which I can’t see being anything but a disaster.
Just as well someone saw the surreal splendour of the proprietor’s personality and the actor’s ability to portray it: the script was by John Cleese and then-wife Connie Booth for the pilot episode of Fawlty Towers.
If you enjoy a journey into the minds of people whose job it is to write, or just those who have been moved to put pen to paper across the ages, then this is the site for you.
* Being in receipt myself of a letter from the assistant of Pixar’s John Lasseter and a signed ‘Toy Story’ picture (another story) I know the joy of receiving these gems of correspondence from another world.