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A Lament for Letters'

Letter writing transcends texts or email. Letters can be treasured and kept. And there's something deeply aesthetic about the physical quality of paper, coloured envelopes and ink. But a British survey has revealed that many children haven't experienced the small thrill of finding an envelope on their doorstep. And there's nothing more depressing than a bill and junk mail in your post on your birthday. A colourful envelope is a prerequisite. A birthday haul of bills and bank statements is no way to start your day. Familiar scrawls, big colourful envelopes filling up the post box are fast becoming a thing of the past as people swap their lovingly chosen cards and envelopes for a quick 'happy birthday' on your Facebook wall.

For those who have never experienced the joy of receiving coloured envelopes falling through the door, it's a sorry state of affairs. The poll found a fifth of British children aged seven to fourteen have never received a letter, with one-tenth never having sent one. Kids now use MSN and social networking to keep in touch. But get ready for a cool renaissance of letter writing as once kids catch on to the thrill of receiving envelopes, the trend will take off. As one 14 year old said after writing his first ever handwritten letter and awaiting a reply for a pen pal as part of a school assignment: "It was really cool getting a letter with my name on it."

Receiving coloured envelopes and handwritten letters is something really special. And putting pen to paper gives you time to really process your thoughts and think about the words you use, expand your ideas or improve your prose. For those who love letters, they'll no doubt have an archive of letters that help them reconnect with their past and lost loves, and with email you don't get to linger over a 'love dad' remark

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