These days we prefer to tweet, text and email – so when did you last write a letter, asks Deirdre Reynolds
Would you recognise your best friend's handwriting?
That's the question being posed by a new book on the dying art of handwriting.
In a world of LOLs and smiley faces, however, author Philip Hensher reckons that many of us would struggle to recognise our own scrawl – let alone someone else's.
"We are at a moment when handwriting seems to be about to vanish from our lives altogether," says Hensher in The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, and Why it Still Matters.
"We have surrendered our handwriting for something more mechanical, less distinctively human.
"The question is: should we even care . . . or does it carry with it a value that can never truly be superseded by the typed word?"
From Jackie Kennedy's glamorous swirls to Hitler's egomaniacal squiggle, handwriting can say a lot about the person wielding the pen, according to graphologists.
"Handwriting is what registers our individuality," agrees Hensher. "It has been seen as the unknowing key to our souls.
"It will never again have the place in people's lives that it had in 1850.
"[But] writing this book, I've come to the conclusion that handwriting is good for us," he adds.
"If someone we knew died, I think most of us would still write our letters of condolences on paper, with a pen.
"Perhaps there are other occasions when we still have a choice whether to write with pen and paper or with electronic means, and we should make the right, human choice."
So when was the last time you put pen to paper?
"Although I always forget to respond to texts, I send my scrawl whenever I can. Just this morning I received a lovely letter from someone special. A text or an email will never compare. In an age of Skype and Viber, there's something sweet about someone taking the time out of their busy schedule to put pen to paper.
"A letter is timeless – you can keep it forever."
Jonathan Healy, Newstalk Presenter: