I have recently been introduced to a pleasing new mantra: “My life is as easy and satisfying as a letter going through a letter box.” As a long-time fan of correspondence, I welcome this content feeling. It has to be acknowledged, however, that completing the letter-writing process requires a persistent mindset. First, procrastination must be nudged aside in order to write a card or letter. Next, do I have the right address?
Then, having wiggled the paper into the envelope, I vainly search for a long-gone stamp in my purse. The envelope slumbers against a candle stick on our kitchen table, patiently waiting for me to venture to the post office before closing time. Within a week, I’ll bring closure to the process but must it take so long?
The fact that I live in the countryside is a poor excuse, though you can imagine my joy (and I know I am somewhat late to the party) in discovering that An Post has brought out a digital stamp. To me, this technology is a game changer. Download the app, purchase the stamp, jot the code on to the envelope and, within seconds – hey presto – the letter is ready for its bon voyage.
When my sister received my hand-drawn stamped letter, she responded via WhatsApp to say, “Ally, the postal system is so mysterious,” accompanied by a photograph of my envelope, which looked like a letter sent by a child with a pretend stamp in the corner. She clearly hadn’t heard of this digital stamp revolution either.
To refine my hand-drawn stamp technique, I may have to tap into the spirit of the Co Clare artist, William Mulready, who designed the world’s first postage-paid envelopes in the 1840s. His designs were indeed elaborate, including as they did lions and elephants, but the envelopes were widely ridiculed and were soon replaced with the Penny Black stamp.
Victorians, being Victorians, managed to find romance in stamps. A language of stamps came into fashion for those wanting to send a secret message on an envelope by placing stamps at different angles. For example, a stamp at a right angle apparently translated as, “I am faithful to you,” while an upside-down stamp meant, “Do you remember me?” A stamp angled to the right reminded to the letter recipient to “forget me not”.
As much as I love a beautifully illustrated traditional stamp, for all those love letter writers out there, now could be a fun time to create fresh angles with the modern-day digital code.
Locating the actual stationery can be another mission. There really is nothing like receiving a letter written on smooth, quality paper or card, which can be a memento to keep rather than delete, like an email. In fact, a new movement has begun in Los Angeles to “text less and write more”. Hopefully, this will lead to us all getting to know the wonderful post men and women of Ireland, whose daily steps are surely soon to rise with this new fashion of communications.
This new “Digital Stamp Era” is a welcome invention and removes almost any excuse a procrastinator (moi!) might use for delayed correspondence. Now, for the next challenge – getting to the post box.