Tuesday 20th September seemed like an appropriate and reflective day to have a look at the collection of Letters to the Editor.
I was interested to know whether they would reflect on the historic day before as much as on the day after, when normal life has had to resume without ceremony. Would it be business as usual?
Would emotional content be subdued, would outraged words be calmed, would political commentary be tempered? Or would the polite niceties of the Westminster Abbey guest list be scandalised, would the cost of policing the day become politicized, would the intentions of the new cabinet and the intricacies of the new monarchy be analysed. Would they make a difference?
It’s always a treat to choose from a stack of daily papers. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a hushed hotel lounge or a sit-in Costa (U-turn on their decision to stop providing their early morning customers with something to read with their flat white). Reading all 74 letters across the 4 papers I had picked, in the name of research, was a great snapshot of what people are thinking.
Only a few of the opinions seemed opinionated, most were serious, a few were sarcastic and one letter describing our new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy arriving at the Abbey in a top hat, as Member for the 18th Century, was outright funny. Excuse me if I seem frivolous to have picked this one out amidst all the intelligent letters celebrating the solemnity and dignity of the Queen’s funeral, but perhaps Her Majesty would have been amused too?
The difference the letters make is the shared thinking - the strange comfort when someone else expresses a view that you were keeping to yourself, comments on an issue that was sitting uncomfortably in your mind or finds a voice when the topic is controversial. Maybe it’s the concept of ‘normal life’ – inclusive and exclusive at the same time - that is the commonality the letters express, whether their words are political, moral, academic, altruistic or tongue in cheek.
Whether the letters were penned by a Lord, a Rev, a Dr or by Bob Caldwell of Daventry, they are more than a moment in time in black and white. They are an anthology of our hopes and our sense of humour, our fears and frustrations. With life as busy as it is, they are a daily bite-sized commentary for what’s going on around us.
Postscript: Sir, In the light of all the letters of 20th September praising the perfect political correctness of yesterday’s ceremony - why, when we are so awake to ‘Woke’, do we have to write to you as Sir? I expect it's simply traditional.