If you read my ‘Every Day is Father’s Day’ blog, you’ll know that the family have been clearing out my mum’s loft recently. The second trip up into the eaves proved just as fruitful as the first – we discovered yet more of my Dad’s personal correspondence and a complete treasure trove of books.
I am thankful to have inherited my Dad’s love of words and reading, and it was bittersweet to see his neat writing across so much paperwork, all in his unforgettable style, and always in fountain pen.
We discovered two large and very heavy boxes of books, all with that comforting, musty ‘old book’ smell. As soon as I opened the boxes I was instantly transported back through the years – it really was like greeting old friends.
Alongside his beloved Dickens and Shakespeare sat contemporary autobiographies, and of course, several books on his sporting passion of golf!
If I could I would have brought each and every book home, but there simply isn’t room, so I settled on just three.
The first choice was the easiest, when I was growing up, if I came across a word I’d not heard before, or needed to know how to spell something, I would always turn to Dad for help, and every time, without fail, he’d say, “if I just tell you, you won’t remember, but if you go and find out for yourself, you’ll remember it forever.” Therefore, our family dictionary, always kept in the sideboard was a constant companion!
So, it was lovely to be reacquainted with my trusty friend, now enjoying a new lease of life in my home office, ready to be of service again.
The second gem was Oliver Twist, a book (and musical!) I’ve always loved.
And book three, well I simply couldn’t resist it! I certainly don’t remember it from my younger days, but the title alone made me smile, ‘The Right Way To Conduct Meetings, Conferences & Discussions’. All for the princely sum of 7/6…bargain! The opening paragraph of the preface had me hooked – “The chief purpose of this book is to help the beginner who is venturing into the unknown and therefore possibly terrifying realm of procedure at meetings. It does not attempt to deal with Company Law or Parliamentary procedure, on which general business procedure is based, although there are variations, and what is correct in the Houses of Parliament may not be necessary or desirable outside it. Serious stuff indeed!
This long-forgotten classic covers all manner of meeting etiquette, immediately transporting the reader back to the past, where life was slower-paced, but bound up in bureaucracy!
Up until he passed away two years ago, my Dad was fascinated by language, he was a diehard letter writer, and I treasure the written correspondence from him to this day. But always wanting to keep up with modern thinking, he had also started to get to grips with social media, but frequently lamented the demise of the written word!
A handwritten note or letter can stir the soul – but you can’t tie a ribbon around a bundle of romantics text messages can you!
We call total strangers ‘friends’, we hook up romantically in seconds, but this reduced language of Facebook, Twitter, text messaging etc only gives the edited highlights and very little content.
When you stop to think about it, so much of this communication is about what people are doing, rather than what they are thinking or feeling, and the occasional photographs and insights into one’s personal life are projected widely, rather than communicated intimately.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not lambasting the very platforms I use myself, it’s just good to pause every now and again to consider the beauty of language and the written word. I recently read a quote that made me both smile and think of my Dad, “good communication, like a good cup of tea, requires the time and effort it takes to brew properly.” We would all benefit from a good cuppa from time to time I think!
I’ll finish by returning to our ‘The Right Way…’ book, for no other reason than to share with you a taster of the other titles from the same range. Who could resist ‘Footloose With A Fishing Rod’, or how about ’Character Reading From The Face’, or the intriguing ‘All About Men’!
If only Dad had collected the series…
We think Sue must be a ‘Master of the Dark Arts’, as she has hidden depths! Running our office with meticulous planning and capability, Sue is an avid list writer with a keen eye for detail. But don’t be fooled by that organised demeanour, for Sue is as creative as she is efficient! A skilled communicator with a humorous edge, Sue is as passionate about people and their learning and development as she is about becoming the future Mrs Tom Hardy or Mrs Benedict Cumberbatch (either will do!). An interesting career path has taken her from the glamour of working in luxury London hotels to the chilled Distribution Centres of supermarket retail, and whether managing small groups or large teams, people are at the heart of everything Sue does.