letters in the language of love

Somewhat later than I hoped, I’m adding a review of a fantastic weekend at the Exhibition Road Festival, London in the summer of 2019. The Goethe Institute was celebrating the love letters exchanged between Victoria and Albert, and I was invited to lead a related activity.

Everyone knows that German is the language of love. And who doesn’t love to receive a letter? I am writing this as we all find ourselves confined to our homes in the time of Covid-19. We try to connect online with Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, Teams… What about writing to someone? With a pen! It doesn’t have to be as racy as the letters that Vic and Al penned.

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Over a very warm weekend in June, people of all ages sat down to write a message to someone they cared about. We tried out our calligraphy, used all kinds of materials: vellum, fabric, coloured papers, lace and wood.

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Some embraced the use of German, and others used image or any other language they felt comfortable with. As I sat back and watched them work I was struck by how absorbed they were in the process of creating something for someone else. It prompted conversations between people across the generations in German, English, French, Chinese!

A young man spent over an hour creating this for his partner.

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Another man wrote a long, long letter in silence and thanked me for the time he’d had ‘to work something out.’

We may be quarantined for some time. Our lovely postal workers are still delivering the things we send.Wash your hands, get your pens out and mail something to make someone’s day.

 

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