15 February 2021
Posted by Tabby Hayward
Happy Half Term! This week, we were looking at letter writing.
We started with this mysterious prompt...
Dear… (the name is blurred…)
I know you hoped you would never hear from me again, but recent events have left me with no choice – I must speak with you.
All I can say is, you were right.
We haven’t got much time. Here is what we must do…
Meet me in the surveillance room at 15:00 on the 17th of
And here is Kira's email chain...
Hi. I know we haven't spoken in a while, and you don't want
o hear from me. But this is crucial. You're still a detective, right? I can't
get through this one. It's well, in a word, abhorrent. This one is tough. I
need the greatest detective in town - you - to put this to an end.
We'll need to meet, anywhere near? I was thinking we could do so, by the
restaurant, Terrific Tea. At 22:00 on Thursday. Ok?
Ok, see you there.
It's a crime scene. No syrup, no ice cream, NO SUGAR!!!!
Next, we thought about books we had read which told the story using letters/emails/other correspondences between characters. I showed three very different example extracts, from 'The Perks of Being A Wallflower' by Stephen Chbosky, 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' by Arthur Conan Doyle, and 'Love, Rosie' by Cecelia Ahern. We looked at the different ways they told the story through the form of letters/emails, and guessed what sort of a person the character writing the letter might be, and how they knew the person they were writing to.
Using this as inspiration, the young writers each chose a character to write a letter - this could be a continuation of their letter from the warm up, or a character they had been working on for another story, or a brand new character. They had to think about who this character might want/need to write to, why they had decided to write to them rather than communicate in another way, what they would need to tell this other person in a letter/email, how well they knew this other person, whether they wanted to write this letter, and how they could show all this in the way they were writing!
Some also developed this further and wrote a reply from the other character!
Here is Charlotte's (which we were all delighted to see featured two of our favourite characters, Osbourne and Edwards!)
I sent this carrier pigeon because it seems to be the only way to get to you these days! I’ll try smoke signals next. I am literally up to using smoke to talk to you!
Anyway just checking in really. I mean I know it’s a little over the top and I know how you hate pigeons. Oh well, at least if you don’t read the letter, I can at least scare you.
Anyway, How are you? I should have asked that first really but you know i waffle! I can never get anything down in the right order. Plus you’d probably dismiss it like the other twenty letters I have sent you.
I feel like I haven't sent a letter in ages! I mean i don’t really get many anymore so I don’t need to send any. I suppose because of this lockdown I’m too bored to even write one!
I’m going to tell you the truth, I have literally gone through everything to keep me not from being bored. Writing, swearing at the TV because all of the programmes these days are just cooking programmes and other stuff like that, that I’m sure you’ve probably gone through as well.
Anyway hope you’re well. Well I suppose you won’t be well because of the pigeon but at least it keeps you on your toes. Gives me a good laugh anyway.
So if you want to send me anything, then please do. I know you might possibly be in hospital because of our last get together. True it is your fault. You started it. True I did finish it by throwing a mug at you but I had my reasons. I don’t really know what they were. You were probably just annoying me and it was the only thing around. Either that or we had used all of the paper copying something from the boss which tends to be about a hundred pages long.
Anyway, hope you’re well.
Thanks for the pigeon. It was a very big surprise. Not the pigeon, well okay I have got to admit that did scare me a little but the fact that you actually wrote me a letter surprised me the most!
And it’s true by the way. You do waffles. The whole letter was basically asking me if I was doing well. Even though it did take up quite a few pages. I really wonder how the pigeon didn’t get bogged down by this letter flying around!
Anyway, I’m fine and yes I’m out of the hospital. Not that you care by the sounds of it. Plus you started it by throwing paper at me. It was not the other way around! If you want I can always send the CTV from the incident to prove my point.
Also a great idea about the smoke signals but I think they would be a little bit dangerous. I think there are a lot better ways to talk than nearly setting our houses on fire.
I didn’t manage to get your other letters. Must have gotten lost along the way somehow. I think you are being a little over the top about how bored you are but by the sounds of it I’m just the same so no harm done there.
I quite enjoy cooking programmes so haven’t got to the stage of screaming at the TV but I might try it next time. Sounds like fun.
Can’t wait to see you again.
Here is Katie's letter between two friends, dealing with a mysterious difficulty...
Dear old friend,
It has been a very long time, and to be perfectly honest I don’t really know what to say, but if I don’t do this now, then it will be to late, so I better hurry up.
We are both well aware that this situation isn’t ideal, but anyway, were in the deep end, and is we don’t start swimming soon, we’ll simply drown. Everything that we feared would happen is going to happen is now going to happen, and were not ready in the slightest, but as I said, sink or swim. I’ll see you later.
Here is Eve's deeply moving and darkly comic piece, exploring another favourite recurring character, Ellen's, build up to writing a very difficult email...
I love my sister but she’s also an idiot. She keeps on insisting that I contact my befriender. She insisted when I was putting on my yellow raincoat and red converse shoes when I was about to leave after mum died, she insisted when we were in Tesco for the first time after mum died and I was intently staring at the tins of soup (vegetable, tomato, chicken, more tomato just Tescos’s own instead of Heinz) to block her out, and she’s insisting now. I’m not sure why human beings are so obsessed with communication. I’m fine on my own and I keep on telling her this but clearly she isn’t understanding. Mum is dead. What is an email going to do? Even if resurrection was real, which it isn’t, she isn’t going to magically appear.
Kamryn is good at philosophy and ethics but I’m better at science and geography. He thinks things are solved by putting the kettle on “like a true Brit” and having deep philosophical discussions about things. I would rather just say things how they are. Mum is dead. It will rain at four pm today and it’s 9 degrees. It will be cloudy all day with a high of 11 degrees tomorrow. I cried in the middle of the co-op at the end of my street when they ran out of Tropicana orange juice with no bits. I tried to smack my head on the washing machine in my flat when it was still running. I told my sister it was because I like the vibrations and she knows that but she is insisting that “grief is getting to me”. It cannot get to me. It is not a person. That doesn’t make sense. So I continued to talk about the weather instead.
I’m only writing something to Kamryn so my sister will leave me alone. I am annoyed that she keeps on coming over and trying to be my carer. I am not five anymore. I am chewing on a cheese string from a packet of cheese strings I found in the reduced section at Tesco whilst my sister gave me a look which I don’t understand and then she tutted and laughed which I didn’t understand either but I’m also not surprised. Reducing the price of something just because the packet is squashed never made sense to me. I don’t know why supermarkets don’t do the things they promise, like reducing plastic for climate change. That is probably too much of an ask.
I have a staring contest with the blinking cursor. I am ignoring the questions on The Chase because unless it’s science they aren’t of any interest to me. I type in Kamryn’s email into the “To” bar on my Gmail. I only use Gmail because google is free and microsoft makes you pay money just to type words on a blank sheet of paper. Handwriting is cheaper than that. I would handwrite a letter but my sister will get on my nerves thinking I haven’t sent him anything when I have handwritten letters just take a good five days to reach people and she knows it.
That’s the easy part. All I have to do is copy that from my university emails. But I don’t have a socially acceptable script for finishing the rest because you can’t script feelings. It would be so much easier if you could template them.
I hope this finds you—
You can’t find emails. That’s stupid.
Are you ok?
That seems legitimate. Now what? I think about it whilst I put my cheese string wrapper in the bin. When I sit back down I’m still clueless so I google “small talk questions”. 10 Best and Worst Small Talk Topics say you can talk about the weather which is great because I know lots about the weather and less about how to socialise.
It’s 9 degrees. How warm is it for you? Is it raining? It rained when—
I can’t say mum died. People don’t like it when you’re blunt about those things but I don’t understand why. Death is death. You can’t avoid it. It would be so much better for people if they could accept it for what it is.
Mum died last week.
I google alternatives for saying someone died.
Mum passed away. Mum went to heaven. Mum expired.
No, that sounds like she passed her best before date. She isn’t food. That’s weird. Why do people talk like that?
I am sorry to tell you this—
I’m not sorry. It’s not his mum.
I want to tell you that mum died last week not because I want to talk to you but because my sister told me to tell you.
He might think I hate him. I don’t hate him, I just hate that my sister is making me send this email.