i Editor's Letter: When did you last post a letter?


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The Independent Online

When did you last post a letter?

Not to i, not a rant at your utility company or bank, nor a note with your – just as rare – cheque, but a letter that began "Dear..." and finished "Yours...", addressed to a personal friend that wasn't a birthday, anniversary, good luck or Christmas card? Yep, me too. The number of those diminishes too. These past two years, I bought and wrote Christmas cards, but never quite managed to acquire stamps and send them. Sorry!

I am not sure that today's news of the Royal Mail's plans to hike the price of stamps to 60p (1st class) and 50p (2nd) is as big a deal as it would have been in the past. I know that there remains a minority of (mostly older) people who are yet to embrace electronic mail, whatever its form, but they are an ever-decreasing minority. To be blunt, if my 80-year-old ma can embrace it, then anyone can.

In truth, beyond the quiet thrill that is a personal communication landing on one's doormat, unlike a piece of direct mail, the personal letter is quite tricky to deal with. Companies are no longer staffed adequately to be able to respond to the snail mail they receive. It's tough enough to do so digitally.

But there is sadness behind the demise of the letter. There's much more than the words on display whenever you write: your taste, values and style are evident. And, much as I have enjoyed getting an e-card or three, it still does not compare with the unique tactile pleasure of opening a birthday, Christmas or a rare Valentine's Day card, knowing someone has gone to the trouble of buying, writing and sealing the card, and – unlike your author – bothered to go buy a stamp and send it. But at 60p? It's moonpig.com time.