Shropshire Star

Peter Rhodes on political interviews, the decline of handwriting and a moral dilemma with a lift

An antique-dealer friend recently gave me a handwritten diary, penned by a Victorian lady which begins: “We were married on July 29, 1858 . . .” It is an everyday book with little excitement or drama but it is shot through with the sheer joy of writing, made possible by a fine quill, quality lined writing paper and blot-free ink.

Lift issue – the BBC's Frank Gardner

That book dates from a golden age of handwriting when literacy was spreading and ordinary folk sent beautiful, copperplate notes to each other. This week, a National Literacy Trust survey shows that writing for pleasure has dropped to “crisis point.”

People still communicate in written words but it's mostly emails or texting. Beautiful, painstaking letters in ink have been all-but replaced by the tap of smartphones and smiley-faces. It's sad, of course, but I suspect that if my Victorian lady had been given a laptop in 1858, she would have loved the emojis - and never picked up a pen again.