Sunday, June 10, 2012

A story so true it sounds like it's not

Some time ago I asked (for those who read Daisy Chain) re pages 14 - 16:

1. Who wrote the letter to Andrea—Mr. or Mrs. Port?
2. What was the relationship between writer and intended recipient?
3. What did the letter say?

A friend in Canada sent an intriguing response:

"Mr. Port wrote the letter. It said that he is madly in love with her and wants to run away with her. It says that he will wait for her every evening on the hill in the swing under the big willow tree. He will wait there for an hour before dark and walk back to the house at dark if she doesn't come."

Her answer made me wonder how Mr. Port met Andrea, what she thinks of him, if she ever comes to meet him at the tree, if she even gives him a second glance or if it's all just in his head. But then again, she never did get the letter because it was behind the chest of drawers. Why didn't he send it?

This actually reminds me of something that happened in real life ... finding a love-like letter that was intended to be sent but, for some reason, never was. It happened when I was studying at Cambridge. Such a bizarre story ... but it's true.

One night my housemates and I had a dinner at home. After everyone left, my friend Laura stayed back and the two of us stayed up talking until early morning. Still not sleepy and feeling restless, we decided to walk down the hill to Parker's Piece (a large, significant green open space/landmark in Cambridge).

Because it was so early (just at dawn), no one was around and the grass was white with frost. We walked through it, dragging our feet, drawing shapes and patterns ... and coming across evidence of nocturnal revelry—condoms, underwear, champagne corks, etc.

In the near distance there was a garbage bin. I don't know what got into me to suggest that we look in it and see what was there. (Maybe because I was studying Criminology at the time). To our surprise, at the top of the garbage was a sealed envelope addressed to Mary Berry, with a stamp on it. Obviously someone had had all intentions of posting it, but for some reason, had decided not to. We wondered ... did the letter writer decide on the way to the post office that they no longer wanted to send the message? Or did he/she accidentally drop the letter on their way to mail it and, upon retracing their steps couldn't find it because someone else had discovered it and tossed it in the bin? 

Not wanting to put the letter back in the garbage in case the latter assumption was true, we agreed to open it and see what it was before deciding what to do.

From the very carefully and neatly-written letter we discovered that Mary Berry gave opera lessons. The letter writer was thanking her for helping him to open his voice ... and other things which I can't recall now. Maybe at the time we were being a bit Sherlock Holmes-ish, but, reading between the lines, we deduced that the writer had a huge crush on Mary Berry, had gathered up immense courage to write this letter full of lustful feelings thinly veiled in metaphors ... but on the way to the post office had decided against it and tossed the amorous confessions in the bin.

Why, you wonder, would he not have gone through with it?

This is the part of the story that struck us as amazing, if not bizarre. Coincidence of all coincidences, the name signed at the end of the letter (first AND surname, for some reason—maybe shyness , nerves or politeness) was that of a young priest at the priory/monastery near to our college!

This knowledge made us put the letter back in the bin.


Lynn Cohen said...

Such an interesting story, thanks for sharing it.

Unknown said...

Ooh great story El. Hm, I sort of wish that you two mailed it to Mary Berry.
Maybe you should google the gentleman's name and her name together, see if they ever crossed paths again.

Elspeth said...

We did look up her name in the phone book, intending to call her, but we never found it. Googled their names as you suggested ... and nothing of them together, but did find some opera by Mary Berry at uk amazon. Could be her.

Lynn Cohen said...

I came back here today to see how you are doing, what you are up to. Nothing new posted. However, I noticed that you posted this at 12:03 PM. 1203 was my house address number from age 6 months of age to age 18 years when I went away to school. Whenever I see that number it just resonates with me...I think of it as MY number!

Lynn Cohen said...

PS Mary Berry is the name of a textile artist in my town. ;-)