Despite thinking I would be more prepared to destroy physical letters than physical mementos, this has proved not to be the case. I haven’t got the numbers yet, because I’m going to make some final decisions when I put the letters into the folders I’ve ordered. However, perhaps the numbers aren’t important, because, as I went through all the material, I came to realise that it was the very personal nature of these artefacts that was making the difference. Generally speaking they generate a much greater feeling of intimacy than most of the mementos I was looking at earlier in this study. These letters are things I become immersed in and that I’m drawn into, to wallow in the words that speak directly from the individuals concerned and in the backdrop of shared experiences and emotions that the sentences create in my mind. Consequently, I’ve concluded that anything I retain will just be for me. They are of no interest or value to anyone else, and will almost certainly be destroyed after I’ve gone. Apart from my own gratification, the only other consideration is whether I have the space to accommodate them. Hence my decision to delay selecting items from the airmails from my mother and father, and from the cards from my wife, until the folders arrive and I see how much space all these missives are taking up.
There is one salient point that occurred to me as I was thinking about the large numbers of Xmas, Valentine, Birthday and Anniversary cards I have from my wife. These are rather more bulky and with less writing on them than an ordinary discursive letter, and, as such, may be a lot easier to just flick through on an iPad. This is perhaps the first time that I’ve been inclined to think that an iPad experience may be better than looking at the real thing in a plastic wallet, and so I may dwell on that thought for a while. It might be interesting to replicate the folder collection I end up with, on the iPad; and then to actually try looking through both. One thing’s for sure, as noted many times in this blog, the iPad version will be a lot easier to store, look after and access than a great big 4 ring binder.
As for the physical storage I have ordered, I deliberated long and hard about what to get. The easy decision would have been to replicate what I bought for the Mementos – smart looking leather covered 4D ring binders with special acid free plastic wallets with various numbers of pockets on each page. However, I calculated this would cost me upwards of £150, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend that much on things that I had now realised were to be purely for my own benefit. I then looked at more substantial wallet folders with 100 or more integral plastic pockets, but concluded that I did need a loose leaf system to enable me to add new material to a group of letters from a particular individual. So, I finally ended up choosing two plain white 4D ring binders with large, 9cm, spine widths for £4.07 each; and 300 55micron plastic wallets for £7.97. The major expenditure was £22.50 for 50 2-pocket plastic wallets (these I used before for some of the Mementos). Without inspecting them in the flesh, I’m not totally confident the binders and 55 micron wallets will be suitable – but I’m crossing my fingers. This experience has highlighted my different attitudes towards the two sets of material: the Mementos are all indexed and numbered, and somehow I seem to imagine they might be of interest to others in the long term; so they were given VIP treatment in luxury leather binders and acid-free plastic wallets. The Letters, however are not indexed, and are just for me, and so are being provided with bog-standard, cheap, binders and plastic wallets which may or may not be loaded with acid. I await their arrival with interest to see if my internet punt has paid off.