“‘Poets don’t draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently.’
J E A N C O C T E A U
Just like the demise of the book, the death of handwriting should not be assumed. The dangers of email, the bashed- out “R U OK? I am gr8” ugliness of texting, the over-impulsive angry phone call – all these fade into white noise beside the elegant, deliberated simplicity of the handwritten note.
Crisp vellum stationery, the elegant flow of letters pouring across a page: these are the building blocks of our civilisation. Yes, we now have the printed word but do we want future civilisations to believe that ours was an age of bank statements and bureaucracy? Where are the love letters, the tellings-off from parent to errant teenager, the little billet-doux of correspondence that make the world go round? Stored on hard drives, listened to by bugging governments, deleted from voicemails? Handwritten notes are both personal and permanent; postcards survive to amuse well beyond the first ‘Wish you were here’ impulse, a love letter is worth a thousand texts.
Yet if the forces of modernity have their short-sighted way handwriting may no longer be an option. Schools no longer rate handwriting; homework is pecked out at home and taken in on memory sticks, greeting cards carry a message to suit every occasion. Unless we actively encourage our children to treat handwriting as a covetable skill, we face the danger of ham-fisted future generations, only able to touch-type, cut and paste.”