From Mary - 'Hugh and Camellia' - FOUR

While Hugh and Camellia were relishing their one letter, Rosemary and Robert were ploughing through a week’s worth. The postman had been off sick and there'd been no-one to replace him for several days so it had taken until 10:30 the night before, just as they were going to bed, before he’d finished delivering the backlog.

"We may as well make the most of having letters at breakfast,” said Robert, shuffling through the pile. "Very civilised." Nearly all of it was junk mail, but, eventually, he hit gold. "Ah! Here’s a good one! Very welcome.”

Rosemary looked up from buttering her toast and peered round his arm so she could see the handwriting.


Indeed a pleasure. It was from their oldest and best friend and his letters were always fun, long, witty, tightly written and full of anecdotes - perfect for reading aloud.

He liked America. He worked there. He'd lived there four years and if he hadn't liked it, he'd have come home.

He liked computers. He'd persuaded his bank to send him away to work on them. If he hadn't liked computers, he‘d have stayed in Clapham.

But his conservative core was embarrassed. He insisted that progress should be resisted. He despised technology. (He said.) He drank coffee for breakfast even though it was against nature to do so and he only agreed to it out of civility. (He said.) He was filled with respect for his colleagues - but complained when they didn't wear ties. He complained about the over-familiarity of people he met at dinner parties - but he went to them.

He sent to England for tea. He cut thin sandwiches and invited friends to share them in the afternoon. Everyone laughed at him. Everyone liked him. Everyone knew he was clever. Hardly anyone knew him - only Robert and Rosemary. To them, he told everything.

“He’s coming back!” said Robert.


For the Next Episode - Five
For the Episode before this - Four
And, remember, 'Hugh and Camellia' is also being posted on a white background - click HERE.


Mo August 10, 2009 at 7:24 PM  

What kind of paper was the letter written on? was is wrtten in ink or with a ball point pen. There is just something wonderful about a real letter. Most mail now is requests for money or bank statements.

3c August 14, 2009 at 11:53 AM  

Hello Mo.

The story of Hugh and Camellia is set in (or around) 1989 - so the letters are, indeed, proper letters, not email.

Most people were using biros but Stephen is old fashioned and proud of it so he uses a fountain pen when it is appropriate.

But he is writing from the U.S.A. to London so the paper he used would have been thin (for the sake of airmail) but of good quality (so it didn't crinkle or tear with the ink).

Stephen wouldn't have minded the extra expense because his work is in developing the computer side of the (still respected!) banking industry so he is well paid and, though conservative in his habits, is at the front of his field.

1989 isn't one of those exciting, memorable years like 1968 or 2000 but it is a very interesting one none the less - at a balancing point between old technologies (telephones tied to walls and 'proper' letters) and the general and popular use of new ones (mobile phones and emails).

I do hope you continue reading because I'm looking forward to more of your questions and comments. (Episode Five is now posted!)