Post from the past

In days gone by
Alfie Apple the postie
(he of the rosy cheeks)
previewed all my mail

‘A letter for your daughter
looks like it’s from London’
‘A postcard for her from Paris’
No interest in the nudes on front
But he’d clearly read the message
‘He’s having a good time’

Personal mail was few and far between
But when it came
Such joy!
What excitement!
Rushed upstairs
to read and savour
On my own
away from prying eyes

And now?
One letter a year
within a Christmas card
From one of those same friends

The Internet has killed
the art of writing letters
My post box holds only bills

Alfie Apple is no more
No letterbox goes click
No mail falls on the floor

a small red number
flicks onto the screen

Anticipation is still there
Junk mail? Business? Problems?
Or one I really want to read?

Note: I looked in an empty mail-box at the Spanish finca (not even any bills!) and thought how times have changed. Instant communication is fine, but receiving a thoughtfully written personal letter was always something special. But to end on an upbeat note – we received two postcards this year!


About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
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18 Responses to Post from the past

  1. free penny press says:

    The art of letter writing seems to have died.. I have 2 people I write actual letters to regularly and I so enjoy sitting down to write, putting on the stamp and posting. Also enjoy finding a letter of return in my mailbox.
    Internet mail is killing the art of letter writing and you captured that fact in this poem.


    • Yes, I looked at an empty mail box the other day, and so many memories flooded back. I should probably add a note to that effect, not to explain the poem, just the inspiration. It was longer than normal 😦 but hard to condense and was looking back and comparing.

      Recently I’ve received a couple of gifts in the post and each had a short note. It’s so nice to see something tangible, personal, and seems to hold so much more meaning. maybe for a shorter poem on that aspect later 😉


  2. Vicky says:

    How true.
    Yes, my postie now only seems to deliver bills and junk mail.
    I too remember the excitement of a post card dropping on the mat or the odd letter from my childhood pen pal.
    The same excitement exists to a certain extent, from newsy e-mails, but these aren’t held in my hand, and read and re-read, becoming crumpled pieces of paper after time, they are re-read, but in the sterile environment of my computer, which somehow loses something.


  3. If I knew your address I would send you a letter!


  4. Rebekah says:

    This is so true! I don’t get any hand-written letter anymore … none! I loved to write them, I loved my stationery [do today’s kids even know that word?]… When I lived away from my home town I used to have an extensive correspondence with my friends … one in particular — she was like me; loved to write. Sadly enough, she died very prematurely in 2003. Later it turned out she had saved all my letters and put them in a binder which her mother gave to me. How odd it was to browse through my own letters over the years…


    • As well as the annual one inside a christmas card I did receive one early last year from a friend who was in hospital for tests. Her writing is beautiful too, so a joy to read. Apparently she is learning to use email now 😦 My writing was never good, deteriorated when I started shorthand and typing, and became even worse after an accident with the dog a few years ago left my fingers less flexible. There is something about a handwritten note, or even a typed letter with a note on the bottom that is so personal though. And as Vicky said, being able to read, and re-read a piece of paper is so different to the screen.

      My mum had kept all my letters to her when we moved to Spain, so I know how that feels. For me, it’s a nice way of having a diary in a way, so I’ve saved them to plough through one day, in peace and quiet.


  5. Thank you for this. I find this a very timely post as I actually received a, postage paid, full of gossip, letter yesterday and was thinking along the same lines. It was a wonderful feeling to sit down and read “a real” letter that wasn’t asking for money. It’s sad to say I forgot what it felt like.
    I also have a collection of letters that family and friends sent me when I moved away from home that I occasionally stumble across and read again. It somehow feels like visiting old friends because of the personal, handwritten touch that, now I think about it, is lost with emails.


    • It’s so strange isn’t it? We all seem to love the real letters and yet get sucked into emails. Emails are great for instant communication, but maybe it is worth while sending a paper letter to those we value? It’s made me think anyway. I was going to say it was a women thing, but as the two postcards were from my partners male friend, and my annual letter is from a male university friend, obviously not. Just down to individuals.

      How lovely that you got a ‘real’ letter though 🙂


      • It was from one of my sisters and included old family photos, note my poem family portrait, and the first thing I wanted to do after reading it was to call her. I resisted however and will give her the pleasure of a real letter in return. I hope it gives her the “buzz”she gave me. 🙂


        • The family portrait poem was full of meaning, and now I see why. If there is no urgency, perhaps we should all think about posting the odd letter. Mine won’t be hand-written, but at least they will be on paper and signed. I’m sure your sister will enjoy it just as much. 🙂


  6. EllaDee says:

    Lovely post. Alfie Apple made me smile. We have a lovely postie at TA. He redirects all our mail to Sydney and knows who we are and waves and smiles or stops for a chat. Mail memories. Birthday cards with $5 notes 🙂 Waiting for mail from home at boarding school. Love letters even, from a high school boyfriend who lived in another town (my most regretted items to have thrown away). My grandmother saved a few letters my mother had written her. I’d like to think “proper mail” will come back into fashion but I don’t hold a lot of hope.


    • I was pretty young when I first called him that. It may have even been pre-school as my mum taught me to read before I went, it might have been one of those books that had a red apple in it.

      Our Spanish postie is something else again. He doesn’t deliver mail. He stands in the middle of the street and beckons people! Stops them in their cars, accosts people on their way to the shops, and we are all so well trained that we queue up to him in the street 😀 He’s pretty good though, and to be fair, the ‘village’ has a huge country area that would be a nightmare to get round.

      I had a few ‘love’ letters. I was happy to chuck those, but there was one, from a different ‘ex’ that I would have liked to read today just because it was so unexpected.

      I’m pleased my mum saved my letters to her that I sent for the four years I was in Spain before her death. It seems so long ago now, and it is nice to read what I did, and to feel a tiny bit of the memory of when she was still around. I think that’s why letters are so nice, they recapture the past and preserve the history.


  7. What a great post! When we were little we would make lemonade and watch the mailman walk from house to house down the street and back up “our” side until her was on our porch and we could hand him an ice cold glass. (back then mailmen could not wear shorts even in 100 degree summers). He knew everyone’s name – and we knew when he would take vacation and who would be substituting.
    Actual letters are special now that email is around. I try to write letters to my oldest relatives – they can’t hear on the phone and besides you can’t hold a phone call in your hand or show it off to the other old people around.


  8. How cool that we all have a memory from the past of our posties, and such a shame that we regret the passing of real letters.
    How nice to write letters to your older relatives. You know they treasure them too, because they usually hang onto them (even if they don’t actually read them again).


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