Experience: I’ve been writing to my pen pal for 81 years

Experience: I’ve been writing to my pen pal for 81 years

It was more than 80 years ago that I wrote my first letter to Paul and Renée. I was about 13, at Washington secondary school in County Durham. Paul was the same age as me, his sister Renée was two years younger, and they lived in Vienne, south of Lyon in France. I liked learning languages, so I was pleased when my French teacher assigned us pen pals. I wrote my letter in French and told them my age and that I liked football. I’d never been to France; this was before the war, and it seemed as unlikely as going to Mars.

Experience: I’ve been writing to my pen pal for 81 years

It was quite a thing to get a letter from a foreign country, so I looked forward to receiving their reply. Paul was not a sporty type, so we didn’t have much in common, but they did go skiing, which was new and exciting for us in England. He wasn’t particularly good at English, so after six months or so we were both writing in French.

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