Today, and on every day in many locations across the world, drawers that have down the years become convenient filing places for all sorts of everything that can be labelled ‘Important’, are being tidied. In one such drawer there has been an exciting discovery of childhood texts that are important social and historic documents.
There are two texts, each set upon double pull-out centre pages of lined 20th (?) Century school copy books. The dimension of each manuscript is identical – 16 centimetres by 20 centimetres, in a double fold. It is clear however that one of these manuscripts pre-dates the other by as much as 1 or 2 or possibly even 3 years. Both are on lined paper – designed to enable scholars to keep ‘straight’ when learning to write – a skill no longer required as texts and emails auto select to straight lines. The writing implement appears to be of similar origin in both cases – HB or 2 H lead pencil, popular in the late 20th Century, when ink pens were considered messy and those of a certain age were dissuaded from using the high-tech ‘biro’ which made for slovenly script.One of the documents, has interesting script on the reverse. Note the embellished lettering in ‘SANTA’ and the more austere style of the warnings, each bounded by lines. A thorough search of all online resources – digitized newspapers and magazines and pension records – did not reveal that an individual named ‘NOT SANTA’ suffered any great peril for having accessed private correspondence. It can be deduced therefore that ‘ONLY SANTA’ opened this document and that privacy was maintained. (It is also earnestly hoped that the warning was time-bound and has now expired)
The main body of the text is headed by another highlighted form of SANTA, but with less embellishment than the former. Intriguingly, the words ‘Dear’ and ‘Santa’ are on separate lines. The request for Crossbows and Catapults indicates a possible interest in conflict.( One wonders if this was an enduring interest.) Research shows that this was a game popular in the mid 1980’s. Item number 3 is of some interest as it is not specified and the reader is left to guess the writer’s intention. Santa would of course have had ‘inside knowledge’ and would have been able to ‘fill the gap’
The other letter is of a much more basic form – no embellishment of the word ‘SANTA ‘, although it stands out clearly from the other script. Once again the words ‘Dear’ and ‘Santa’ are on different lines. The list has grown and indicates an expanded list of requests. It is clear that the writer is of high status with access to a television and magazines, given the requests for no fewer than 6 items of Celtic ‘livery’. Subbeto ( Subbuteo?) normally came with a fabric pitch – it is to be hoped that the request for a plastic pitch was met.We will never know.
One of these letters has a full name and address, regrettably no longer legible which is just as well as the ‘peril’ warning may still be in effect. These documents are a wonderful record of childhood as well as of social history. It is a matter of great regret that the year has not been recorded and it is to be hoped that this post will serve as a reminder to people who put things away in drawers that the date should be added to any such documents so that when they are rediscovered decades later, there are properly contextualized.