Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Write Stuff


My  Smythson stationary & business cards.

Just after  polishing  off the traditional Scottish  Ne'erday (New Year's day ) steak pie at lunch,  rendering movement virtually impossible, I succumbed to a non - alcohol led burst of the January blues. It was a force 6 on the trembler scale, soggy hankie, prophecies of doom in 2013 and a long wade into the icy waters of existential dread - all before 4.00pm.
Don't  worry, I sorted that out with my trusty  universal panacea; two rusty fingers of bourbon and the dulcet, dusty tones of  Kid Rock - I'm on top of old smokey covered in cheese again!
For millenia the antidote to the blues has been to give thanks which is what I intend to do in that most old fashioned of manners, by pressing feelings into ink and paper and sending them around the world. When I got engaged my first thought was: white or cream? No, not the dress but the stiffies (for my Yank chums that's not a reference to the male member but what we Brits call those weighty gilded edged invites that give purpose to our mantlepieces; of course I went with Smythson.)
One of my wishes for 2013 is that we all rediscover the pleasure of the letter and the delightful thunk of something personal coming through the letterbox. Thank you to 'Get Fresh' who has kept my letter box very well fed. Louis Vuitton are riding the zeitgeist with the opening of their new shop in St Germain-des-Pres dedicated to the art of letter writing.
Here's to engraved copperplate, gilded edges, die stamp lettering and the simple scrawl of pen on paper.













67 comments:

  1. i just had this conversation with a good friend of mine. oh how we both miss getting real letters in the mail. sad isn't it? i will be joining you in letter writing this year. and isn't it great that music can pull you out of the dumps? happy new year dear tabitha. xoxo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Janet, here's to Jack and Kid!

      Delete
  2. How interesting that you have been thinking these thoughts...
    I am about to put pen to paper and send a newsy letter to friends in Queensland.

    Music is a great healer...
    when I feel blue I turn up the volume and dance.
    (2 fingers of Harvey's Bristol cream for me!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hostess - music is so uplifting, i'm just about to watch the New Year's day Vienna concert, do you watch it? Strauss is just wonderful.

      Delete
  3. Echoing the sentiments about the joy of receiving real letters in the post. I do write thank you letters but that's about it. I resolve to find more opportunties to send letters this year!

    Just polished off traditional steak pie myself and now semi-comatose on the sofa watching yet another episode of Poirot. Between that and endless Miss Marple on tv I feel I'm in some kind of 1940's timewarp. However, mum is keeping me company today and she loves them so happy to watch them too.

    Hope your January blues have been banished Tabitha. Ah, the power of alcohol and rock'n'roll!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. La Rona - mum was round and I had that horrible 'she won't last the year thought' she's gotten so frail.

      How good is the paste on steak pie? We all fought over the last bit.

      Delete
    2. Yes, I have the same thought every year now about my mum :(. She has stayed over with me since Hogmanay and I will take her home tomorrow but then I worry about her being on her own as she has also got so frail. However, she has just fixed me with a sherry induced glare and asked me who I am speaking to on the internet. My response was 'oh...umm...er...an internet friend'!

      Steak pie pastry is to die for...I have enough to send mum home with another helping for tomorrow.

      Delete
    3. So funny, I set mum home with a helping too, oh we need to need to start a Scottish support group!

      Delete
    4. Definitely! A Dealing with an Elderly Mum Support Group!

      Have just noticed it is possible to e-mail you so will do so (I'm a bit slow that way!!)

      Delete
    5. My spelling has gone to hell in my last two comments, I'm not even drunk. Yes email me.

      Delete
  4. I adore letter writing. I use an ecru colour by Crane with a small silver border. But I don't have your address Tabs...if i did, great volumes of nonsense would come your way.
    I have become leery of using my fountain pen as the address runs horribly in the rain.
    I'm glad your spirits are improved. January one is a tricky day to navigate with all the endings and beginnings involved.
    Jennifer

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Crane have utterly beautiful offerings, I worship them from afar.
      Yes from now on I want to be put into a medical coma, I feel so maudlin on the first, I don't want to say goodbye to a year of my life - I am old now.

      Delete
    2. Could be worse, my birthday is two weeks from New Year's Day, so I always have the imminent birthday to deal with, as well as the usual New Year's maudlinity. Plus I am older than you!

      ---Jill Ann

      Delete
  5. This is funny, I was just making my daughters write their thank-you cards for their Christmas gifts! I need to do the same but this battle goes first. I'll be putting pen to paper next week, I can only hope I might write a letter that would be even a little bit like one from GetFresh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dani, the thing is that my writing is now a jagged scrawl as I do it so infrequently, ven holding a pen feels awkward now - what is happening to us?

      Delete
    2. Oh and Dani, Get Fresh is Oscar Wilde in a frock, I wish I was half as witty as she is.

      Delete
  6. My handwriting is terrible - hm, I'm sensing a resolution coming on.

    Before I was married, I had Queen Bee calling cards from Crane with my name and phone number printed on them. They seemed frivolous when I ordered them, but they were actually very handy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh lovely, Crane have such beautiful offerings, I just love stationary. My handwriting is runic now - I don't think that's even an adjective, oh well a neologism for New Year's Day.

      Delete
  7. I have bee stationery that I love. But my handwriting is also now dreadful, and I keep leaving out letters in words:(. Happy New Year to you Tabitha, and may the blues always be so quickly banished.

    ReplyDelete
  8. A Happy New Year too you Tabs! I love letters. If there is oone thing my aunt and grandmother taught me , it was to hand write a Thank-You letter for a gift recieved. And so many choices to select from, I could be a paper whore!

    ReplyDelete
  9. It can be a bit of an anti-climax when all the fireworks are finished, but you did the right thing in having a soothing bourbon and bit of Kid on the side. I have a weakness for stationery and am crazy about pens, I cannot ever be far away from either. Even a stubby old bic or pencil and an old envelope will do - as long as I can write. ps stiffy is one of my favourite words, I can't even say or think it without smiling!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I do handwriting notes, especially to those that still handwrite. I'm trotting over the interspace to Louis Vuitton and see what they have. I'm a fan of their subtle vernis line. Thanks for the head's up.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well this is too funny - as I was just admiring Dani's stationary and thing that I must absolutely get some of my own! My task for this week is the thank you notes for all the people who sent me notes about my dad. I did not want to do it better the holidays - too sad. I guess i am ready now!

    I gave my husband a quill for Christmas! Now he must get a penpal!!

    I love the Smythson! I have dreadful handwriting! Maybe I need a typewriter. My grandfather would type dandy little missives on notepaper, and then neatly sign "Gordon" in ink at the bottom (or in my case, Grandad or Grampy.

    Yes to real notes in 2013! Of course, I am listening to Glenn Miller right now, so what else would you expect?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love stationery, it's definitely something we should bring back in regular use.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I would love it if letter writing made a comeback, and you're just the blogger to lead the charge, Tabitha! I love beautiful paper, and I hate that there is so little use for it these days. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love fine stationary and fountain pens! I usually use Italian, watermarked paper ( name escapes me and I´m off to bed ) and black ink. I´ll write Thank You- notes from presents tomorrow and am now toying with the idea of hand- made papers instead. Hand made papers are often just too porous and make the ink smudgy and allows it to bleed. And much to my surprise I´m all out of sealing wax. How unprepared of me.
    Yes, I too took a swift look and 2012 that caused waterworks. A new day, new year etc. Better just go with it and peddle through.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I used to write and receive letters regularly years ago, however, like several people above, my handwriting has just gotten worse with age (it wasn't all that great to start out with). I do write/type the occasional letter to (older) friends who are not online, but it's mostly emails nowadays (written, however, in the form of a letter, not a text message!)
    I'm well acquainted with the January 1 blues - hope you are feeling better now.

    ReplyDelete
  16. My dear your way with words... sheer poetry and craftsmanship! Visiting your blog... always a gift!

    ReplyDelete
  17. First of all, sorry about the blues. Hope you feel better.

    I love stationary and getting letters. It is sad that no one really writes anymore.

    I've never had steak pie but I love steak and pie so I'm sure it is delish!

    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  18. Pretty much everything Sue (the view from great island) said...exactly! I adore getting letters in the mail as my children sat at their desks writing their thank you notes today...probably cursing me, but maybe someday they'll be grateful I did.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Horrible handwriting as well, almost illegible unless I write at a crawl, and then it looks so childlike. A lost art.
    When I'm down, I like to listen to melancholy music. It cheers me up somehow - go figure?

    ReplyDelete
  20. I dash off unreadable but pithy and heartfelt notes on blue cream laid paper from Belgium, I believe. I use a broad nib to keep the words to a bare few. I have a friend who writes his Private Property Keep Out signs with his left hand thus alerting the reader to the probable insanity of the property owner. Very effective. Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, us southpaws are mostly crazy.

      Delete
    2. Especially when writing with your right hands!

      Delete
  21. I have ordinary handwriting but By God I luff Smythson! x

    ReplyDelete
  22. I know these blues...this year, though, will be a good one...just watch and see :)

    Smythson with sealing wax.....love love letter writing!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I adore handwritten notes but must admit, even a letter by email will do for me. For some people I know, instant text messages, tweets and Facebook updates have replaced even emails as a mode of communication - very sad!

    ReplyDelete
  24. So sorry you had a round of New Year's disquietude...hate when that happens, but very happy to hear that you are now 'covered with cheese' once again, nothing better than that, excet maybe a special kiss or two from Ginger, which she sends lovingly to as a 'just in case' back up!
    There must be letter writing in the stars at the moment for I've been 'feeling called' to write real letters with nib & ink, something I've never done before...actually, it's most likely the fact that I'm immersed in Juliet Barker's tome of biography on the Bronte's right now, that's probably the real culprit. The experience of no spell check and the sound of pen on fine paper though would be fun to try, plus, my gifted ink and pen have been sitting dormant for way too long.
    All the best to you dear (such a bloggy term, but it's heartfelt) Tabs in 2013, keep that cheese on top of ole smokey and all will be well.
    xo J~

    ReplyDelete
  25. Real letters are indeed lovely, on stiff or limpid. I have many shoe boxes of letters from my mother, (we wrote to each other twice a week for over 30 years), which I sometimes dip in to to remind me of her and it's as though she's still here. Wonderful! Sadly the emails I exchange are usually binned after a while, losing all that memory for ever. As you note, learning to write in one's own fair hand can now be a struggle too, as we are so used to the keyboard. I have gorgeous (fountain) pens that rarely see the light of day, but I used to be obsessive about collecting them.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Another one whose handwriting has deteriorated, although I'm blaming muscular changes due to keyboarding rather than anything age related! It changes according to mood AND the available pen. Love fat ink pens with fat nibs and brown ink. I've fallen into my mother's habit of using gorgeous cards, but also have notepaper customised via the pc - linedrawn dog in the top left corner, 2 pages per sheet of paper, sliced down the middle.

    I compulsively keep all *personal* letters.

    Alcohol makes my blues worse, but music is definitely alters moods for the better.

    ReplyDelete
  27. In my youth (I've embraced being old, see?) I was a prodigious letter-writer. I loved my fancy pens, my stationery and the physical pleasure of writing. It felt like another form of needlework, only with different tools. There were times when my biggest difficulty was getting all the pages into the envelope provided (I've always been a babbler). Like others, my handwriting has deteriorated and since retiring my spelling has as well. I still send the occasional letter to older folks you don't do computers, but they never write back. And frankly, I don't enjoy one way communication. You're lucky to have someone to write and who writes back.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi Tabitha,
    Just discovered your blog and dropped in to say I love handwriting, beautiful stationery and calligraphy. I must say that my handwriting is very nice (people tell me that all the time) and my next project will be recycling my Christmas cards into bookmarks with Japanese paper, wallpaper and satin ribbons.....then writing the name in copperplate calligraphy and sending the bookmarks back to the person who sent me the card. I have a stack of gorgeous damask wallpaper and Japanese paper and can't wait to start!
    Happy New Year to you....I've added you to my bookmarks.
    Lorraine E. (from Sydney)
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  29. By some remarkable coincidence the doorbell rang whilst I was reading your fabulous prose. It was DHL with a delivery from Smythson! What a wonderful way to start the year - ohhhh, that Nile blue, it gets me every time!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. When I was young I was given an beautiful deep red leather stationery set which I still have today. I used to write letters frequently especially to my grandmother and still remember the excitement of waiting for the postman to knock and searching through the mail to see if someone had written to me.
    I also had a very emotional start to 2013 and was eventually soothed to the glorious sounds of my favourite operas.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Wonderful. I love letters and I think it's a shame we don't spend more time writing them. I think I shall try as well, to write more letters instead of emails and such. It's a beautiful art and it's getting further and further pushed away...love stationary as well :))) Happy New Year to you doll, I hope you have an amazing one!! xx

    ReplyDelete
  32. STAYING IN TOUCH Ta for shout out. Want to riffle through your blue box collection far more than that shoe cupboard.
    "As for making any adequate return for such a letter as yours...it is absolutely impossible, if I were to labour all the rest of my life and live to the age of Methuselah, I could never accomplish something so long and so perfect."
    - Jane Austen to Fanny Knight

    ReplyDelete
  33. I tried to write a check yesterday and realized with horror that when it's not school time, I can't even write properly ; that shows you how much I join pen to paper when it's not for writing snarky comments in the margin of students' tests !

    ReplyDelete
  34. happy new year! thank you for explaining about the stiffies :-). I was listening to the Rolling Stones yesterday. takes me back to my younger days. dancing while cooking in the kitchen and drinking a marqurita. yes!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Happy New Year Tabitha and glad to hear you've chased away the 'black dog'-to use Dr Johnson's term. I too have long lamented the decline in letter writing and its corollary the art of conversation as they both bring improvement to the other and when engaged with an inspiring collaborator.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I have handwriting that can look almost like calligraphy...amazing, as I am left-handed. The down side is that I am often asked to write for other people whose hand is almost illegible...such as Mr. J.W. I love good stationary but, these days, am generally sending out short note cards. I also still use sealing wax, though only for hand deliveries.

    Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  37. Email me your addy and I will put you on my letter list. I have spent the morning scouting a new fountain pen - I will need to put it to good use!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Love the stationary! Having just recommitted to hand writing my thank you notes, the allure of beautiful writing supplies has new allure.

    ReplyDelete
  39. 0123 Tabitha - that's the new year shake up!
    You may already be a reader but Letters of Note is inspirational as well as hilarious for that beautiful new stationary
    http://www.lettersofnote.com/
    Happy new year to one of my favourite bloggers, even though I almost never comment!
    Miss Godarkly

    ReplyDelete
  40. It's such a treat nowadays to get a hand-written card or letter from someone - it means that they really took the time. Happy New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Happy New Year T! I'd love to see your design, you have spectacular taste so I'm sure all your paper goodies are beautiful. Cheers to 2013!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Aahhh! The smell of ink and quality paper and wax seals. My Waterman gets a regular workout and it's a real treat to spoil onself with beautiful note cards. So civilised.

    ReplyDelete
  43. you have inspired me to hand write my thank you notes....I was about to email!! Happy new year

    ReplyDelete
  44. I think my sealing wax gets stuck in the mail sorters here in the U.S. Has anyone else had that problem?

    Sheree

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have heard this is true and only use sealing wax for hand deliveries. Some sealing wax companies sell USPS-friendly special 'wax' seals, but I have no first-hand knowledge of if they work.

      Delete
    2. I have heard this is the case and only use sealing wax for hand deliveries. Some sealing wax companies market a 'USPS friendly' wax, but I don't have first hand knowledge as to if it works.

      Delete
  45. Happy New Year Tabitha! I just discovered your amazing blog after you left a comment on mine. I think bringing back the lost art of letter writing is a wonderful idea. My husband and I wrote each other long letters when we dated long distance. He also collects fountain pens. Since that time I don't find myself writing too many letters, but I am inspired by you to start again!

    P.S. I think it is great that you love bourbon so much. Since a recent trip to Kentucky my husband and I have become quite obsessed with it!

    ReplyDelete
  46. I always make a pilgrimage to Smythson when I'm in London to buy their note cards. If I put in the effort to write a hand written note, I like to do it on beautiful paper. I had engraved invitations for our wedding (not from Smythson, they were on Crane paper), and I still have the copper plate that they used for the engraving. I'm still not sure what to do with it 12 years later, especially since the whole invitation is engraved mirror image on it.
    I had to write 28 thank you cards last month after a surprise birthday party my husband threw for me, and I agree with others that my handwriting was terrible. Plus I misspelt everything due to no auto spell check.
    Hope the blues have lifted. It's hard not to, but don't anticipate your mum not being with you in the future- enjoy your time with her that you have. You're lucky you have had so long with her in your life. xx

    ReplyDelete
  47. Another fan of Smythson here! Also, Mont B. fountain pens - wish I had waited for the Grace Kelly pen but I already had the Ingrid.....

    Just need to start using the fountain more! Elle x

    ReplyDelete
  48. Life moves so fast now. Only the uber-important items, letters, invitations, etc. are beautifully presented. It is a very fond memory. But, I do love my email, the phone, and all the happenings of today. xx's

    ReplyDelete
  49. Excellent wish for 2013! Beautiful thoughts with beautiful handwriting on beautiful stationery is a rarity. I am always astonished by the correspondence from past generations.

    ReplyDelete
  50. I'm sorry to hear that the January Blues paid you a visit. It sounds as though you've found the perfect antedote though, or at least a pleasing distraction ***HUGS***.

    I used to have "pen friends" as a child and regularly wrote to my dear Nana throughout my life. I'm sad to admit that now even just writing holiday post cards or penning thank you cards is enough to drive my hand to a painful cramp. I'm guessing it's a bad sign if even my hand is out of shape! For a chatterbox like myself, the sad truth is that my mind becomes frustrated because I cannot write as quickly as I think. Fortunately my typing speed gets me a few steps closer to the speed of thought, but that also contributes to my terrible grammar and verbose, rambling chunks of text /case in point.

    I'm sure that your letterbox will be lush with gorgeous notes in no time :)

    I wish you a wonderful 2013 and hope that you can master one of my most important resolutions also... to try to enjoy the here and now without tainting it with the fear of what may lie ahead. I'm sure that 2013 will be filled with many more wonderful memories for you and your family and many exciting visits to the mail box!

    ReplyDelete
  51. Happy New Year, Tabitha!! I logged onto Smythson website and found all my favorite notelets have sold out. Ack, the discounted ones always go first!

    ReplyDelete

Marquess of Queensbury rules apply.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.