Tag Archives: emails

Old Fashioned Statement

Hello, you absolute delight of a human being!  How’s your Tuesday going so far?

Everybody’s a bit of a sucker for nostalgia, aren’t they?  We can all get a bit misty-eyed thinking about the past, whether it’s an event from childhood or a night out from last week.  Even if we weren’t actually around for them, we think very fondly of times gone by.  (For example, I would love to have been running around with the beautiful and damned darlings of the inter-war era, tearing up London with a cut-glass accent and wearing devastating dresses.  I was born a mere eighty-nine years too late to be part of that crew.  So close.)  

Times change and people change with them.  Technology, education, culture, language (and basically everything else you can think of) all transform unrecognisably in a few short years.  In general this progress is an excellent thing, but have we left anything of value behind?  Have the fads of fashion left us bereft?  Aren’t there traditions and ideas which might benefit us in the present day?  We can’t ask Doc Brown for a lift to the past, but here are a few old-fashioned practices I think we ought to resurrect:

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  • Wearing Hats

The first thing I should say about this one is that most hats don’t suit me, and yet I think we ought to bring them back as standard clothing items.  Hats add a level of respect and formality to greetings.  For example: men tipping their hats to ladies, which is just a nice greeting, or people removing their hats as a sign of respect when they enter someone’s home.  Hats also have the Sunglasses Effect – which I explained in this post – everyone looks dashing in the right hat.  (It’s just unfortunate for me that my ‘right hat’ is basically a bonnet.  Whatever, I can deal with that.)  When society wore hats all the time we all just looked a lot smarter and cooler, in my humble opinion.

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  • Writing Letters

We don’t really need letters anymore, if we’re honest.  Emails and Facebook messages can take forever if you’ve got a lot to say, texting is very straightforward and, if you’re feeling super old-fashioned, you can always pick up your mobile cellular telephonic device and give someone a ring.  We should bring letter-writing back for two reasons: firstly, the time it takes to hand-write and the money it costs to post letters shows a level of courtesy and attention which means much more than simply pressing “send”.  Secondly, if we can’t use a backspace key then we might think more carefully about what we say and how we say it.  If you want to make someone feel special, send them a letter.

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  • Dancing

You know when you’re watching a period drama or something similar, and everyone starts dancing in a very complicated-looking pattern without a second’s hesitation?  Someone from the sofa always says “but how do they all know the steps?”  Because that was a massive part of British culture in the Regency period, basically.  All children were brought up learning dozens of dance steps, because dancing was where it was at.  Flirting, favour, showing off how ‘accomplished’ you were, making friends, spurning enemies and holding pleasant conversation all happened on the dance floor of Austen’s time, and all of that social exertion was accompanied by lightly beneficial physical exercise.  Why don’t we do that anymore?  What a brilliant way to bring people together for a boogie, without resorting to deafeningly loud music and Jägerbombs.  

There are loads of other brilliant old-fashioned things that we could bring back if we wanted to.  For instance, I have a friend who always wears a pocket watch, and another who favours the cigarette holder.  This insanely talented friend even makes vintage clothing.  Whatever it may be, I hope that something from the past makes your present day life more enjoyable.  

I’m off to buy a bonnet.  Have a gorgeous day.

 

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Talk Is From Poundland

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Hello, dear reader.  We’ve reached Thursday!  Hooray!  How are you doing?

We are all familiar with the phrase “actions speak louder than words”, but how much do we really believe the idea?  We get hung up on words all the time.  We re-read text messages and emails, we hold on to hurtful things that people say and let them get to us, and some of us even make a living out of using words (ahem).  Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone.  Some people are very good at letting words go.  But for a lot of people, even those who are good at ignoring the things that people say, we don’t really pay enough attention to actions.

The problem with words is that they’re so easy to use, and if you’ve been given them in a written format you can quite literally keep them with you forever.  Having said that, I got a bit upset a few months ago because I couldn’t find a load of emails that were exchanged between me and friend over ten years ago.  It was quite sweet, really: we used to email each other every day before school.  It was like having a pen pal, but with emoticons.

Now that I think about it, it really doesn’t matter about the emails.  I am still friends with the guy who I was sending them to, and I got to see him quite a lot while we were both in Edinburgh earlier this month.  It would be nice to see what we were writing to each other all those years ago, but the action of having kept in touch for a decade means so much more than knowing exactly what we’ve said to each other in the past.

Don’t get me wrong: I love words.  Obviously.  But I prefer phone calls to text messages and coffee dates to instant messaging, because in the months and years to come I will not remember anything that was said.  I will remember laughing and feeling connected to another person, but I won’t be able to tell you which words we used.

I couldn’t tell you what we talked about at my birthday party, but I remember my friends Katie and Mell making me an amazing Bag End birthday cake.  (That’s what’s in the photo at the top of this post.  Isn’t it amazing?)  I have no idea what our first words to each other were, but I know that my oldest friend and I had a fight when we were six when I threw my ballet shoes at her, and that we made up immediately afterwards.  My friend Jon and I have horrendous arguments sometimes (especially when Mr. Jack Daniels has been invited to the party), but we don’t care because we know that the other person will always drop everything if one of us has a crisis.

Words are good, but they’re cheap and easy.  Actions can be challenging, but they mean a lot and they have staying power.  If words are from Poundland, actions are from Argos.  (Seriously, have you tried shopping in Argos?  If that’s not a challenge then I don’t know what is.)

Have a gorgeous Thursday.

Face Value

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Hello, and a very happy May Day to you!  Did you know that 1st May used to be considered the first day of summer?  Yeah.  Apparently that’s why the summer solstice (25th June) is known as midsummer, even though we all know that it will still be cold and rainy at that point.  Ah well.

Also, this day always makes me think of an episode of Red Dwarf when two of the main characters get marooned and are discussing the distress signal:

Rimmer: I wonder why they call it ‘May Day’.
Lister: Eh?
Rimmer: The distress call.  I wonder why it’s May Day…it’s only a bank holiday.  Why not Shrove Tuesday or Ascension Sunday?

I digress before I’ve even begun.  ANYWAY, one of the slightly surprising side-effects of writing a blog has been my friends’ reactions to it.  If I’m being ambiguous about certain situations or what have you (mainly due to respect for others, privacy and suchlike), my friends tend to ask “was that post about such-and-such?” or “were you talking about so-and-so?”  Sometimes the answer is yes, but to be honest I’m not sure that it matters.  If it’s really important I’ll talk to my friends about it in real life, anyway.  We’re supposed to be going to the pub in about five hours, after all.  Plus it’s your round.

This is something that lots of people (not just girls, before you think I’m stereotyping) find difficult: accepting a statement at face value and not trying to find hidden meaning.  I am terrible for this, so please excuse the blatant hypocrisy.  (I’ll make it up to you with biscuits.  D’you like chocolate digestives?)  I over-think like it’s going out of fashion, so I am constantly asking in wretched tones “but what does that MEAN?”, and trying to determine people’s exact feelings about life, the universe and everything based on sentences as simple as “I’ll see you later”.  I’m a lot better than I used to be about this, but I think a lot of us are constantly dissatisfied with transparency and longing to find some obscure meaning in a bit of opacity.

Why do we do that?  Is it because we are genuinely convinced that every sentence spoken or written has an ulterior motive, a deeper meaning or a secretive subtext?  We do it with everything: text messages from the person we’re enamoured with, oddly formal emails from colleagues, passive-aggressive messages from friends with whom we’ve sort of fallen out.  Why can’t we accept things for what they are, and trust that what people say to us is usually what they mean to say?

I’ll tell you why: because we’re British.  We hardly ever say what we mean out of a neurotic fear of seeming impolite.  This is the nation that can make “sorry” sound like anything from a sincere apology to a vicious death threat, for crying out loud.  So I have a challenge for you, lovely people of this United Kingdom: cry God for Harry, England and St. George, and try to be a bit more open with people.  If you want to be able to take statements at face value then you have to start with the man (or lady) in the mirror.  Michael Jackson would be proper chuffed.

Have the kind of Thursday that would make an excellent movie