I have letters from my mum that she wrote to me when I was away camping with the Leicester 25th Scout group. There are a few notes in SWALK envelopes from ex girlfriends. (Don't tell the wife.) There's even a short note from Barry Manilow somewhere.
In my 28 years at Watford I kept only two letters, both from Creative Directors. One was from Trevor Beattie offering me and my students the world. The other was from Peter Souter saying his agency would rather help out another college. (These letters I fear were lost in the College Great Paper Cull of 2010.)
Nowadays, letter writing is dead. Emails are merely word bites which make Bukowski's Post Office seem loquacious.
Today, I received an unsolicited letter from a Creative Director I've never met before.
An out-of-the-blue-never-saw-it-coming bunch of words that hit your soul with a warm mushy fist of human kindness.
Although the letter was in email format it would have equally looked at home if it was written on parchment paper with a quill.
This is another letter for my shoe box.
Tony, I felt it was high time I said hi.
My name is Richard Russell and I’ve just joined WCRS as CD on their Government business.
As it happens, I sit next to – and have just worked with – the gruffly delightful Johnny Ruthven and Ben Brazier, who also say hi. (Brilliant team – what a good job you did with them.)
For years, I have been meaning to get in touch and offer any assistance, if wanted. I am a huge admirer of what you do at Watford, Tony, and firmly believe that under your inspirational and human leadership it remains the pre-eminent course for aspiring Creatives. But these days, of course, any old Tom and Dick University or College think they can do the same job as you, and I hear that times are much tougher for Watford.
If you’d like a hand, I’d be happy to help. As unoriginal as it sounds, I guess I’m thinking about maybe coming to talk to your students, showing them a few choice, eye-opening things, and setting a brief of some kind. There may be other ways to assist you in promoting the course, but perhaps a visit is the best place to start. I’d relish the chance to speak to your class and get them fired up about the extraordinary things they can make happen as a Creative, and how best to go about it. While the industry is having an identity crisis at the moment, fiercely original problem-solving will never go out of fashion. Indeed, it’s more important than ever that the new generation of creative talent fly the flag for irresistible thinking and claim our place back at the top table.
I hope this finds you well, Tony. It would be a pleasure to meet you and perhaps we can make that happen sometime soon.