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Dear reader

 

It seems most appropriate to write this as a letter as I want to tell you about a wonderful evening I recently spent in London at Letters Live.

 

If you don’t already know, Letters Live is an event where some of the best known names from the world of stage, screen, music and elsewhere come together to read letters written by people from all walks of life. Some funny, some sad, some quite ridiculous and some deeply serious.

 

I should point out to you, dear reader, that until each reader and letter was announced I had no idea who I would hear or who they would read. Imagine my delight when Benedict Cumberbatch walked onto the stage. How completely marvellous that he should read Mark Twain whilst doing an impression of another actor’s impression of Twain. Twain’s voice was never recorded for posterity but the impression by a contemporary and neighbour was. This actor, coincidentally, was also the first to ever play Sherlock Holmes! It’s a small world these consulting detectives inhabit isn’t it?

 

I wish you could have been there but as you did not have that pleasure let me tell you a little of what you missed:

 

Louise Brealey and Benedict Cumberbatch reading love letters from the Dear Bessie series. Brealey fluffing a line and exchanging amused glances with her co-star who, when it was his turn, started reading the wrong letter. They laughed with the audience and it didn’t matter one bit.

 

 

The ridiculously attractive Oscar Isaac reading a letter from a wholly unimpressed Alec Guinness complaining about Star Wars and his part as Obi Wan Kenobi. A more fitting reader of such a letter would be hard to contemplate.

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Geoffrey Palmer reading a letter written by Evelyn Waugh to his wife on the occasion of a tree being blown up. We cried with laughter.

 

 

Listening to the lovely Sophie Hunter read a letter written by Helen Keller describing her utter joy at being able to “hear” an orchestral symphony. The letter can be read in full here: My heart almost stood still.

 

And simply surreal moments like listening to Cumberbatch read Marcel Proust’s letter about his terrible masturbation habit and inability to screw; all the more surreal for the fact that Cumberbatch was being watched by his wife. The letter can be read here: My dear little grandfather.

 

Dear reader, I’m sure you know that events such as these are made all the more special by the knowledge that the performers are having as good a time as the audience. We were sat directly opposite the stage entrance. Watching the performers watching and supporting each other, peeping through the curtain, hugging each other, sitting happily on the floor together – shoulder to shoulder (Mr and Mrs C), enjoying every moment just as much as we were made this special night even more so.

 

I don’t like just to list things (I was once told off for writing a thank you letter that simply listed all the things I’d had for Christmas when I was a child); however, I feel it would be doing the other performers a disservice not to give them some credit. They were all equally wonderful.

 

Performing were the following (in order of appearance): Nitin Sawhney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Louise Brealey, Sophie Hunter, Simon McBurney, Hanif Kureishi, Sarah Snook, Geoffrey Palmer, David Nicholls, Jeremy Paxman, Oscar Isaac and Emiliana Torrini.

 

There was truly beautiful music from Nitin Sawhney and Emiliana Torrini which complemented the letter reading perfectly. I wish I could list all the letters that were read too, but I suspect one list in this letter is quite enough. You could peruse the Letters Live Twitter account if you were truly interested.

 

The last letter read was an unfinished one. It was written by Robert Falcon Scott and read by Benedict Cumberbatch. There was barely a dry eye in the house when it ended without the traditional letter ending and everyone realised why. You can read it and see the actual letter here: To: My Widow.

 

In the audience with us were Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue, who we saw stopping to sign autographs and take selfies on the way out. We didn’t join the small queue; they weren’t working and we had trains to catch.

 

To top it all off the event took place at the Freemason’s Hall; a simply stunning Art Deco building that has to be seen to be believed.

 

Stained glass in Freemason’s Hall. My photo.

A stunning ceiling in Freemason’s Hall. My photo.

Stained glass in Freemason’s Hall. My photo.

 

A night of surprises, inspiration and emotion. I wish I could have been at every Letters Live night as one just simply wasn’t enough. And as I mentioned before, I just wish you could have been there.
 
Most sincerely yours,

 

Kathryn

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