Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

Dear Reader,

We have just spent the weekend in Devon.

Richard's parents are downsizing from the large family house they retired to fifteen years ago to his late grandma's rather bijou two bedroom flat down by the seaside. It's a good move, but it's cruel as it entails throwing away lots of possessions and boxes of stuff that they have accumulated over the years.

Several boxes of Richard's stuff were moved with his parents and have spent fifteen years in the loft. His life has not been the poorer without them, and yet, it was important that he had the chance to look through them before they were consigned to a tip.

I know how difficult this process is from emptying my mums house last year when we sold it, and so just as he was there to support me, here am I to say the words " Bin it" quietly, but firmly in his ear.

What I wasn't expecting was to be touched by anything that he found myself. Yes, it was great to see pictures of him as a Cub Scout. Yes, I've seen his graduation pic. Yes, it was good to see his cuddly toys from childhood. A firm goodbye and they headed skipwards. Then he found letters. Letters that his parents had written to him when he was at university, and letters that I had written to him when we first fell in love.

I have to say I had no recollection of the letters until I saw them, and then it came flooding back. No domestic email in the mid nineties. Just a sealed envelope sent every other day from Pimlico to Cambridge saying how our time together that weekend had brightened my life. They also had hints of me working things through for myself. I was approaching forty when I met Rich with no serious relationships behind me, and he changed my life. The letters are clear about this, and it was strange to stand in a bedroom in Devon and see my emotional state of some seventeen years ago exposed so clearly.

I always used to love writing letters , and in an way, I suppose, that is what this blog has become, an occasional missive to those who want to read it. I remember writing letters to friends who had gone to Stratford for the year entitled "Paul's letters to the Thespians". My adorable friend Janie tells me she has some letters I wrote to her while she was at drama school, and I'm sure there are others locked away in cupboards and boxes elsewhere.

Dear friend Loraine has a brilliant blog running at the moment where she is slowly telling the story of how her parents met in the war through their letters. It's gripping, moving and intensely revealing of a time in history and a slice of society. Check it out at withlovefromgraz.blogspot.com.  It's well worth a read.

I don't think I'll be publishing mine. I think of them as romantic. Rich told me they were soppy. (I've long accepted that's his word for romantic!) but he kept them. He put them away and kept them, and even though they have spent fifteen years in a box in a loft in Devon gathering dust while our relationship has gone from strength to strength, through good times and bad, he's got them back now and its good for both of us to be reminded of just how we started out together.

Now where's that letter to my MP I was writing?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Clayton




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