In 1994, as teenagers, my now wife and I started going out. We lived 320 miles apart, and in the first year wrote 110 letters between us.
For my letters to her, I made my own envelopes. It was a flirting thing, and a creative one. Also, I didn’t have any proper envelopes. So I grabbed whatever was around my desk – manuscript paper, magazines, plastic folders, and used them instead.
Looking back at them now, they represent a slice of my teenage life. They’ve got my infatuation, my love of adverts, my lack of money and my procrastination from school work written all over them. They also reveal a time when tobacco was widely advertised, when the Post Office promoted post codes and products in their franking, and when diligent postmen would try their hardest to get a letter to the correct address (their pen marks are visible on some of the less legible designs).
Would I write these letters and make these envelopes as a teenager today, with the Internet and mobile phones at my disposal? Unlikely.
Some of this collection are from the years following, when Mary went to nursing college and I took a gap year before heading to Cambridge. (I’ve redacted house numbers from personal addresses). It still amazes me, given how some of them are addressed, that every single letter got through.
See the whole collection.