Friday, 13 June 2014


The sound of the post dropping onto the doormat is a hard sound to call. Sometimes, it’s the wallop of an eagerly anticipated delivery, more often its the flop of overly-chummy junk mail, and occasionally, it’s the thud of doom.

There have been more flops than wallops lately, as the actress said to the underperforming bishop. Targeted missives this week have included an unsolicited free copy of The Sun, which was as welcome as a turd in a punchbowl, and a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions which sent the the fecal quotient in the fruity drink receptacle right off the scale.* (*More about this letter another day, because hell, it’s Friday night and I don’t want to be angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry).

So I consoled myself by looking again at one of the more recent joyful deliveries. No, it wasn’t something from Ann Summers -  it was a good, old-fashioned letter, which had winged its way all the way here from Australia, and the writing wasn’t even upside down or anything.

It was from my niece, Jemma, who is currently taking a gap year after graduating from uni. And it wasn’t for me, it was for her cousin - my daughter.

It was written, simply, and clearly. It didn’t over-complicate, but it didn’t patronise. It was full of care and chat and information and questions and praise and love.

The idea of it coming from the other side of the world and that her cousin might be in bed because it was night-time there, thrilled and fascinated my girl.

Jemma spoke about her travels and seeing a white wallaby and a real life Tasmanian Devil, as opposed to the Tasmanian Devil in five-year-old boy form that lives in our house. 

She wrote how she’d met a young lad with Prader-Willi Syndrome (the same condition as my daughter) at a special school where she is volunteering, and had impressed staff with her knowledge of the syndrome (...“only because of my special beautiful cousin”, she admitted). 

She finished: “I hope you are OK and you are happy. Give your mum and dad and even your brother a BIG hug and kiss from me! And don’t forget Grandma too!”

The last bit made me well up, mainly because I am becoming a right wuss in my old age, but also because I knew Jemma hadn’t forgotten Grandma herself. She’d already sent an equally carefully-written letter to her beloved Grandma, my mum-in-law, which was simply wonderful. Grandma loved it, and I know this to be true a hundred times over, because I’ve stationed it on her coffee table, and it gets unfurled at very frequent intervals and read with delight, because Grandma has dementia and can’t remember having read it before. Every time is like the first time, which is a bit heartbreaking, but, even so, a bit wonderful. Because it’s that good.

G’day Jemma, you flamin’ galah! You’ve made a young girl, an old lady, and this soft nelly in the middle, very happy.

Song is Joe Tex - S.Y.S.L.J.F.M. (The Letter Song)

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