I am reading an enchanting book: Can any mother help me? By Jenna Bailey.
It is a history of a Cooperative Correspondence Club, or CCC, set up in the mid 1930s by a group of women in response to letter sent into a women’s magazine. The letter was from a young mother, living in rural England, bored and frustrated by domesticity and the loneliness of her life who was yearning for a hobby ‘to stop myself brooding’. Several readers of the magazine got in touch with her to suggest a correspondence club, and the CCC was born.
Each woman (there were about 20 to 25 altogether) submitted an article to the person they had all agreed would be editor. The editor bound the articles all together and added a homemade cover before posting the magazine off to someone in the club along with a list of who the magazine was to be posted to next. Each woman could add notes and comments to any of the articles before posting it on. A new magazine was compiled and sent out every fortnight so there were always several issues in circulation at once. The women wrote about their experiences with their children and their wider families. They also wrote about politics, birth, books they had read, philosophy, sex, economics, funny exploits, health and the cinema. Any and every topic was covered, and some lively debates came out of the articles and comments.
The friendships these women made in the CCC lasted for over fifty years. They were from all over Britain and Ireland and their correspondence club continued until they were old women in their seventies and eighties. Some of them met in person on a regular basis. Many never met, and even kept their identities secret through nom-de-plumes. But they were all friends, and the letters, articles and comments sustained them through the difficult as well as the ordinary and joyous times in their lives.
It struck me last night, that if these women had been born into our era, they would be blogging. I didn’t start my blog because I was lonely or frustrated, but what I get out of blogging and reading other people’s blogs seems to match what the women in the book got out of the CCC. The friendships, the pictures, the sharing of stories from different kinds of women in so many different parts of Britain (and the world), the inspiration, the humour and the unusual viewpoints are all things I love about the blogs I read. Some blogs I follow have authors who were my friends for years beforehand; some bloggers have become new friends. I know I will never meet most of the people who read my blog and yet I feel that I have a friendship with many of them. I know that if we did meet up, we would laugh and chatter with no shyness at all.
This seems to me to be a particularly female phenomenon; this desire to share details of our lives with others and build up friendships through it. Men write blogs too – but the only ones I know of are work blogs – Mark Mardell’s Europe anyone? Are there any men out there writing creatively about their everyday lives and creating friendships across the world with that “Oh! Me too!” feeling? I’ve not found any.
So I think we now have a worldwide Cooperative Correspondence Club – less CCC and more WWW. Although I very often stare at my blog thinking ‘what shall I write next?’ somehow, something always does get written. People read what I write and respond to what I write and so I get to know them. I do the same on other people’s blogs. It sustains me, and I hope I will continue until I am an old lady too.