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  • Writer's pictureJon Bolitho-Jones

A bit of fan mail...

Well kinda but not really. This delightful letter was sent to me by a wonderful friend/almost family member Margaret who I haven’t seen in some time. She lives down near Southampton by the sea, and mainly communicates by post. You can see the letter right here:

Margaret is a bit of a legend within the Bolitho-Jones family. My parents were both doctors and as such they needed a childminder to look after us a couple of days each week. As such Margaret appeared. First she looked after my older brother, then my sister, and then finally me and my younger brother. She is an absolute delight, and would always bring along interesting things for us to do. It was because of her that I had quite a green finger when I was younger – I was pretty good at growing tomatoes. She was also responsible for me owning two types of stick insects. I have quite a few stories about my little pets that would make some people’s skin crawl. I remember finding one downstairs on the kitchen door. Luckily no one else noticed it and I quickly whisked the little chap away. I still have no idea how the thing escaped. Anyway it was all ultimately Margaret’s fault – she gave them to me after all! My wife is very thankfully I don’t have them


However she wouldn’t let us get up to mischief. We’d eat our tea no matter what, but only after we’d washed our hands properly. She had a way of telling if we’d just “shown them to the water”. For us she was the quintessential old school nanny. A nice one, and though she wasn’t Mary Poppins she still reminds us of a certain Disney character…

My sister and I have a habit of pointing at the screen when Sleeping Beauty is on and shouting Margaret whenever Flora appears. It confuses people sometimes. If you want to see her for yourself I’m afraid she doesn’t have Facebook. She shies away from technology, hence the letters. But if you trawl through the internet and find Gareth Malone’s South Oxhey choir show you can see her in the background. My wife took part in his most recent choir, the Christmas one at Watford General Hospital. You see her quite a lot in it too. Annoyingly they left out her solo from the concert which as you can imagine made me very grumpy on Christmas Day. Technically you can also see me in it too. It's only a flash mind. I will give a prize to anyone who can find it. Of course I write Margaret letters too. I even have my own writing set just for her. This is it…

I sent her a signed copy of my book. She read it, enjoyed it, and then sent me the letter seen at the top of the page in which she says how much she enjoyed it. Her main criticism being that she wants a sequel. It is written don’t you worry, it just needs a lot of editing. Hold on everyone...

There’s one remark though from her letter that really stuck with me. You see when I was little I wasn’t very good at reading. In fact a lot of people used to worry about me falling behind.

"Who would have thought the five year old who thought reading at school was boring would become a children's author."

As such I had private tuition – reading the Biff. Chip, and Kipper books. Though they’re easy reads they’re still absolutely brilliant. There’s plenty of jokes in them that only adults would notice, so whenever I see one I tend to give it a quick scan. I don’t think the little version of me, struggling to read, would ever have thought of writing a book, let alone 4. Just got to get the rest published now…

Anyway where am I going with this blog post? I don’t know really, I just started writing. Maybe it’s to encourage you to write letters yourself. In this time of super technology sometimes its nice to send low tech but sentimental things like these. Letters are great – though I do dislike not having ways to easily edit them, and I’m not too fond of my handwriting. Maybe I’m highlighting the importance of cherishing memories? The little delightful ghosts of times gone by that dance around in your head. Just by reading the words she has written sends swathes of memories rushing back to me. It’s delightful, and yet also a little bit sad. I miss those times, but would not go back to them, for you see I am happy with the experiences I have lived through and ready for those I am yet to go through. But maybe what I am trying to say is, that in these difficult times we find ourselves in, it is important to stay connected with those dear to you. Not physically of course, but emotionally. Write that letter, video call that person, do that physically distant movie night. After it’s all done take these bonds, strengthened through hardship and lockdown, and go strengthen them further. I have found that I’ve ended up more active on social media. It gets a bad rap at times but ultimately it’s such a handy tool.

If there is one thing this letter has certainly done is make me worry. I hope and pray that Margaret is doing alright and staying healthy. I have very little way of finding out save for a letter arriving in my letterbox. As of writing this I am still waiting. I pray one will come with happy news soon. So here’s to Margaret and many happy memories.

With that it’s bye for now. I’ll be back soon.


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