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Letter from the Den #1

November 15, 2010

I can’t remember the last time I wrote. I’m not even sure whether anybody writes letters any more. What’s the point? Everyone’s using email, Facebook or Twitter. I am. Are you?

You must be. I can’t believe you’re not on the internet doing something or other. Broadband coverage is reasonably good in the country and if it isn’t, see if you can get a deal from Sky. We have. We couldn’t do without it. And – as I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn – we make full use of it.

I suppose I could have sent an email. But I don’t have an email address for you. The last one I had it was on Tesco.net. Is that still your address?

Writing a letter seemed like a better way of establishing contact again. It’s been too long. Far too long. I know we’ve spoken on the phone. I know too that in comparison to some considerably more painful life stories, we’ve also made visual contact more than others I know. But I’m missing the connection. And I’m wanting the connection. And time is running out. And – frankly – trying to reestablish that connection is not going to be achieved by an email. We both know that. Don’t we?  Somehow writing a letter seemed like the right way to put my best foot forward. Sometimes the formal approach – the traditional or old-school way – is the right thing to do.

Mind you. I know that will probably drive you wild. You’ll reckon I’m being all superior. I don’t want you to feel like that, obviously. There is no competition between us. There never was. But I have this idea that you might think I’m trying to ‘lord it over you’. I’m really not. I’m just trying to lay it on the line. Say it how it is. Lay all my cards on the table. Sincerity comes from transparency.

Everyone’s talking about transparency. I hear it all the time. It’s presented as the silver bullet. If we’re transparent about everything then we have nothing to hide. And if we have nothing to hide then we have no shame. And if we have no shame there’s every chance we’ll be liked. It’s only when we start covering stuff up – making excuses for things – we’re in trouble. Jesus. Sometimes transparency can be so tiresome.

I’m writing this from ‘The Den’. I rarely come in here. I’m normally down in the lounge watching TV and dabbling on the internet. But for ages now I’ve wanted to spend a more time lounging around on the dubiously named ‘love seats’ (DFS’ name, not mine) staring at the unread books, drinking beer and listening to the radio.

I loved the idea of somewhere to lounge in upstairs – it seemed so very decadent. I’m a sap. I know. Some things haven’t changed. But it’s taken ages to realise it.

First, it took years to decorate. Seven, in fact. I’d thought I’d be able to do it myself – you know, on the cheap. A few trips down to Homebase to get a few cheap bits and bobs and a tin of paint. It didn’t work. It was a dismal failure. The carpet was the last bit of carpet in the house from the builder who fitted it before we moved in. And it was the carpet we didn’t replace. I thought covering it with a mat would do the trick. It didn’t. I gave up on the room. Just shut the door. Forgot about it.

Then, a few years back we got a decorator in, got the carpet replaced, bought the ‘love seats’ and got a set of curtains fitted. It was transformed. Then, last year I forked out for a bookshelf. We’ve edited down the books – took loads off to the charity shop – and put the rest on the empty shelves. The piano sits in the same position it occupied when we arrived. The door was shut again. Closed. The room shut off from the rest of the house.

That was 18 months ago. Just the other day, however, I opened the door again. Dusted down the shelves, fitted the stereo I had at university and had a lick round with the vacuum cleaner. Tonight, after a hard day at work I’m sat with my beer, listening to the radio and sending you this letter. It’s a nice thing, even if reading it back may be a little disjointed. I’ll be the first it’s probably going to have been the most bizarre letter you’ve had in a long time.

I should go. There’s fish pie in the oven and – if I’m not mistaken – Grand Designs to watch off Sky+.

Be in touch. Write to me. Sit down at that computer I know you have and type me a letter if you don’t want to write it. Just be in contact.

Jx

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