A few months ago, I met an old gentleman (and there is no way you describe him, except as a gentleman) who used to work in public health. In his seventies, and still volunteering, still very upright, very straight-backed, very soft-spoken and very 'correct'... (if it was possible to fall in love with somebody in the future that is suggested by the present, I could easily fall in love with him). The sort of man who will draw up a little cushioned stool to the telephone which is kept in a corner of the corridor near the hall, dial the number for you, hand you the receiver, ask you to sit on the stool while you talk, and step away to stand at a polite distance himself.
I found myself thinking that if only I was sixty years old, I'd marry this old man (except that he already has a charming wife in her sixties).
This is the sort of man who begins his email, addressing me as 'Dear Ms Zaidi' and 'with reference to your letter dated.....' and goes on to tell me about his most recent holiday with his wife, before moving onto more professional matters.
I found myself responding with a letter that began with a prim "hope this finds you in a best of health and spirits".
Having written this line, I paused and thought - I have never, ever, used this line before. We were taught to use it in school, in semi-official correspondence or when writing to a great-aunt you've never met but who religiously sends you boxes of chocolates. Nobody says things like 'hope this finds you in the best of health...' outside of school homework in language class. Maybe not even there.
But I did say it. Because it seemed right. Because now, I know what it means. Because it was a straight-backed, upright, correct, gentlewomanly sort of thing to say.