I never particularly enjoyed writing at school. It was just a chore I had to learn to pass exams. Having progressed through a chemistry degree then a career in banking, I rarely had to write more than a paragraph. Emails were always time sensitive so little care or thought was needed because there was always a rush to hit the send button.
It was only in my early thirties that I developed an actual use for creative writing. Alas, it wasn’t really to serve a new career or anything productive but for a new found hobby: sending complaint letters. A well-crafted letter, that has taken several edits to get right, can be tremendously satisfying and therapeutic to write. It can also have the added bonus of discounts, favours or free stuff if you can find the right person.
Complaint letters started with airlines but as the kids came along and got older we traveled less. So the next obvious choice was politicians. I am particularly blessed in that we have 3 levels of government here in Canada as well as my MP back in England so there is huge scope to practice my new therapy!
The most formidable exchange was with my now retired MP before the Brexit vote. I have a thick file of hand signed letters from him where he patronized my knowledge of economics (I taught applied economics up to Master’s degree level), pretended to have extensive knowledge of Canadian fishing quotas, tried to claim the EU was democratic and generally toed David Cameron’s line to the letter. Alas, I never received a concession letter but I’ll take the moral victory in lieu.
My most despised politician, the Mayor of Vancouver, has not been so kind with his time. I am now over twenty letters without reply and unlikely to get one as he is standing down at the election in a couple of months. “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference” or so the quote goes. That certainly rings true in this case, after the endless nights of anxiety induced insomnia waiting for a reply on my latest masterpiece about bike lanes.
Taking the flippancy aside, I think it’s really important to engage with political leaders. Almost all of my friends and acquaintances have endless frustrations with politicians yet very few ever communicate with them directly. Whilst not all of them can be guaranteed to acknowledge or reply, on the whole I have had positive experiences with most of the politicians I have written to. Politicians aren’t clairvoyants, so if you don’t share your views they won’t be able to represent them or accommodate them. That’s especially true in the run up to an election!