The Letter From Home

It was in 1959 that the school arrange a trip to Bembridge in the Isle of Wight. There were forty girls and boys and their teachers. I still have some photographs of that short holiday.

At breakfast most of us got letters from their parents. We were, after all, away for whole week at the age of nine or ten and a week is an eternity when you are young.

The Royal Mail was speedy in those days and we got our letters sent from Poplar from the Isle of Wight at breakfast the day after they were posted. We ate together eating unfamiliar food in unfamiliar circumstances reading our letters. Getting a letter from home was amateur of pride. I think we all had them.

Opposite me a younger girl sat and was crying over her breakfast. Her friend told me that she had got a letter from her mum, but that should couldn’t read her mother’s handwriting.

I was young and confident that I could read it, so I asked for the letter assuring her that I could read it. She passed the letter to me. I was a good reader for my age and tried to puzzle out the handwriting. As hard as I tried I could not read a word of it. Sadly. I admitted my incompetence and handed the letter back.

The girl had tears in her eyes; the precious letter could not be written.

Her friend told her not to be upset. She would read her the letter later that evening. The sad girl cheered up immensely.

I was then too young to understand, and it is only now, more than half a century on, that I understood what happened then, and why it was so important to mother and daughter, that letter from home.


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