Category Archives: Small things

The value of handwriting

This time of year seems to bring up reflections on things lost or changing beyond recognition. I’ve noticed handwriting coming up more often in these conversations.

Last year at this time, I wrote about something similar. Now, I’m looking forward to reading Philip Hensher’s book, “The Missing Ink,” should Santa have chosen it for me from my list of books.

Hensher’s observation about not knowing what his best friend’s handwriting looked like struck a chord with me. Having spent the year perpetuating my own small handwriting project (sending one handwritten postcard a week), I know that I can differentiate at a glance between a very small number of peoples’ handwriting. And most of those people are equally ardent fans of handwriting.

Recently, an envelope arrived in the post with a beautifully scrawled address in thick ink. Everything about it caught my eye and made me eagerly anticipate opening it. I had no idea who it was from, even after having gone so far as to interrogate the postage stamp, time and place for clues.

It was from a good friend. I simply hadn’t seen her handwriting often enough to be able to recognise it in the post.

This makes me want to campaign loudly and strongly for Hensher’s suggestion that “I want everyone to maintain an intimate and unique connection with words and ink and paper and the movement of hand and arm. I want people to write, not on special occasions, but daily.”

An excerpt from his excerpt printed in the Observer is below.

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Small changes can make a world of difference

From the Small Fixes column in the New York Times (26 September 2011) – Using four-times folded laundered sari fabric to filter drinking water can reduce the quantity of cholera by 99 per cent.  As amazing as that small fix is, the author states that five years after the initial findings and training, very few women were still following the correct procedure.  The conclusion: “even cheap, easy, familiar solutions require behavioral changes that need periodic reinforcement.”

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