I got a letter from America. I thought it was great. It was a thank you letter.
It reminded me of when I was a child and on Boxing Day and the day after my birthday I would be given a note pad, a pen and be told to get on with my thank you letters. One particularly vivid memory comes from when I was about ten years old and my family lived in a small town in Suffolk. I had just finished a letter to my Aunty Joan (everyone my age seems to have had an Aunty Joan) and was proudly showing it off to my father before folding it into the envelope. For a split second he seemed a little confused before his eyebrows rose in understanding. "You will need to re-write this page. She didn't send you an 'apost-lorder', she sent you 'a postal order'." What happened was that when I had opened my card I saw a piece of paper fall out. When my mother picked it up I thought I heard her say, "You've got apost-lorder. I'll swap it for this pound note and change it when I go into town".
There were no such mistakes when I read the letter from America. I should hope not too. It was an open letter from the US Ambassador, Robert "Woody" Johnson, to say thank you for the way in which the visit of the President of the United States of America had been handled. It was published in the Police Federation magazine this month and addressed to all the coppers in the UK. I am still one of those I am happy to say, so the letter was to me too. And I guess he wrote it at the Embassy which is technically US soil, so I am sticking with saying that I got a letter from America.
Two things struck home.
First was that he took the time and effort to write this letter to the rank and file police officers. He didn't need to. The obligatory letter to senior officers probably gets written fairly regularly I am sure. But I don't recall any other ambassadors writing a letter specifically to the officers who worked the shifts. It was generally complementary, which was nice. And it was friendly, which was also nice. But more than that it showed an appreciation of the professionalism, good humour and the extra hours worked by those left back in force to cover the abstractions.
Second was that he chose "Police", the magazine of the Police Federation of England and Wales. It wasn't sent to the big boss to "cascade down to staff". It wasn't posted on some webpage or wall we may or may not stumble across. It was published in the only publication I know of that is distributed to every rank and file officer in England and Wales. I really don't know if it reaches Scotland and Northern Ireland; I really should find out.
Anyway, it was much appreciated and made me think that perhaps my parents did have a point. It is polite to write thank you letters, and people do appreciate them.
PS. Please be kind, honest and drive safely.
PPS. The magazine is here. The letter is on page 24.
August and September