B2 Reading Gapped Text Exam 6

The letter

Letter writing is regretfully a dying art, but that is a shame because there is a charm to receiving a letter that phone calls, emails and computers cannot duplicate. When a letter arrives, it is exciting to see who sent it, and when you open the envelope, you read the crisp sheets with the sender's handwriting. I have enjoyed writing letters for as long as I can remember, and my mother is to blame. We started by writing little notes to each other, which led to my having to write all my own Christmas and birthday cards and thank-you notes.

My love affair with letter writing developed further when I had to leave home to go to London for my studies, at the age of 18. The only way I could keep in touch with my mother and father was by writing, and I used to send long letters with all my news.

Not only did I write to my family, but for some reason I formed relationships with people who always seemed to have to be away from me, and the only way we could keep in touch was by writing to each other.

I am a shy person and often it was difficult to express what I really felt, face to face. It was much easier to sit down and put all my thoughts into long letters which became my normal way of doing things. Many of the people I met, or worked with, now live abroad, and I love the letters that come with the cards they send.

I trained with a girl from the east, over twenty years ago, and we started a close friendship, which has lasted till this day. Once a year I get an airmail envelope, covered with beautiful stamps, with all her news. I have also collected penfriends over the years in Canada and Australia. Once, when I was travelling, I met a lady from France, and we got talking and she was very funny. She gave me her address and I wrote her a long letter.

But she did, and we write to each other regularly. She speaks no English and I speak a little French, so it is a fantastic way for me to improve my French. Our friendship has really grown over the years, and we have stayed with each other a few times. My best experience with letter writing came this year when we went to stay with one of my pen friends in America.

When we got there we were treated like celebrities with our pictures in the local newspaper. People couldn't believe that a relationship based on letter writing could last so long. Now my children have caught the bug. I helped by establishing the same rule my mother did, so they have to do their own writing. My daughter writes me little letters, just as I did to my mother.
Now they also have penfriends of their own in America, organised by my pen friend.
E-mail is great and very convenient, I can't deny that. But it can never give the pleasure and the love a long letter to a friend can give. I hope people don't give up on letter writing because it would be so sad.

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