How did this happen? How could I have missed this fantastic collection of letters about cricket? In my quest to understand just why letters are so important a mode of communication, surely letters to the editors of the Daily Telegraph on the subject of cricket would have provided some insight. Last night I discovered on a friend’s coffee table during a dinner party Not in My Day, Sir: Cricket Letters to The Daily Telegraph, edited by Martin Smith. What a discovery it was!
Having now perused the collection, I can say with certainty that the letters included prove one of the main points I make in my book, Signed, Sealed, Delivered: that letters show just how much we care. A letter writer takes the time to gather his/her thoughts; places them in a meaningful and cohesive order; puts them down on paper (the effort required to find just the right sort of paper offers more proof of the importance of the thoughts to be shared), then places the letter into an envelope (effort to find the envelope, ditto) and affixes a stamp (ditto); prints out the correct address on the envelope (ditto, again) and then ventures out to the mailbox and commits the letter to the great, wide world without any chance of recalling it or deleting it. All those actions and efforts demonstrate just how much the letter writer cares about what he or she is writing.
And let me tell you: these cricket letter writers do care. There is the writer who protests “over-fifties” complaining about what batsmen and bowlers wear on the field: “When will they realise that cricket is about winning? Personally, I wouldn’t care if Mike Atherton took to the field with a W.G. Grace-size beard, wearing a dressing-gown and goggles, with a fag hanging out of the corner of his mouth and swearing like a trooper if it meant a winning English team.” I may not know who W.G. Grace is but the sentiment – and the care – comes across loud and clear. Then there are the long missives about scoring (I will never understand how points are accumulated in cricket) and the notes about the food on offer (no better over there than the hot dog and nacho stands we find here) and the carefully penned diatribes about issues utterly beyond my ken (can someone tell me what the lbw law is?) but there is no lack of comprehension when it comes to the just how much that letter writer cares about the game of cricket.
I can say without reservation, having read through the letters in Not In My Day, Sir: cricket lovers care a lot about cricket. In fact, I am sure the Daily Telegraph has boatloads of letters on cricket just waiting for editing into another (and another and another) collection. Until then, get your hands on these, then sit back and enjoy the efforts (heart and soul, anger and love, fear and sadness) that went into the writing. The letters that we take the time to write are proof of just how much we care.