Tag Archives: conversations

Pen pals

Hello Dear Reader

Pen Pals

On a recent train trip, I was reminded of how pleasant it can be to just talk to someone. I don’t often travel by train but this was for a conference and the last leg was late at night. Overcrowded trains, an empty seat and not wishing to spend the last leg sitting on the floor again, I ventured to ask if could use the empty place. A polite yes, a smile and I sat down.

As a general rule, we human beings aren’t very good at communicating sometimes and almost find it awkward to do more than hello, excuse me etc.  Over my many years, it seems, I have not had that problem. We did engage in a rather interesting conversation regarding people, culture, and certain people’s food choices. We did touch on how difficult people found it to talk particularly on trains or the underground. It reminded me of my very first trip to London aged around 11 years old.

I recounted the story, a school trip to the big city at a time when school trips were very different. At one point, the school party took a river trip down the Thames. Now, I was one who at aged 11 had no worries about saying hello to people and was watched over like by hawks. True to my exploring and inquisitive nature I moved forward to the front of the boat. There at the front was a woman and her husband enjoying the trip. She asked who I was, noting one of the teachers keeping close to me.  I really can’t remember the conversation but I do remember having my picture taken. The reason I do is that a few weeks later after the trip, I received a letter from Canada. I did not know anyone in Canada or so I thought. Inside was a picture of me, this one.

 

The letter of the woman I met. It was my first pen pal letter so to speak. I was rather pleased with myself and took it to school to show everyone. for the next 15 to 20 years we were pen pals. I never met her again, many pen pals never met in the first place. I do remember how it ended. There was a final letter, note really, the handwriting was like that of a spider and I know she was very ill. I never heard from her or her family again, despite me sending two further letters.

We both chatted on the train exchanging stories and interests on a few things. Besides the pen pal story, we spoke about photography. I did mention about how I was enjoying black and white these days and mentioned that I had written a blog on the subject of trying to pass quality control. What I forgot, was that my photo on that blog was colour. What was pleasing was the comment from my fellow passenger. Almost like a new version of pen pal letters, the internet or this blog is acting like a letter.

So in some respects, it is a thank you for the enjoyable conversation, Also to honor a promise. I did say that I had some black and white pictures and here is one. It makes me think, are these blogs the new form of letters to ourselves and others?

 

Tagline: “Letters stand the test of time, no matter what media you use”