How good is your handwriting?
I used to be very proud of mine but over the years it’s got to a state where it’s very difficult for some people to make sense of it. I used to be proud of my calligraphic twists and curls, but any attempt at such at the speed I now write results in illegible scrawl.
I was of the last generation of children brought up with a dip pen and inkwell. It sounds positively Dickensian now, but whilst the rest of the world adapted to new fangled inventions like the ball point pen, my primary school, even in the late 1960’s taught handwriting skills for at least an hour a day, working from exercise books crammed with lines of italic repetitive text which had to be slavishly copied. This even carried on into the 1970’s when my sister left. Her beautiful handwriting still bears the mark of that rigid discipline, whereas mine has picked up some pretty bad habits which back then may have resulted in extra lines, or for the deliberately careless, a ruler across the palm of the hand (Lord help you if you were left handed!).
However I for one enjoyed the process of writing and the tools and rituals that went with it – filling the inkwells with blue-black ink, kept in a large bottle behind the teachers desk; sheets of blotting paper that had to be cut to small rectangles for the class to use; and above all, pens. This fascination, and with stationary in general, started well before I attended school full time, birthdays and Christmasses being marked with a new set of pens, a stationary set, and when I was five, dad bought me a Smith Corona typewriter (that’s another story, but I could type quickly with two fingers by the time I was seven, and I still have it).
In a bid to revive my handwriting I asked for a new pen for Christmas – the one in the picture to be exact. I thought I’d give it a test run by writing to an old friend who I haven’t seen for a long time, only to realise that it really is quite hard to get hold of a writing pad these days. So a question then; instant communication tools such as social media and blogs like this have reduced the need to write, so outside of your job, or whilst studying, when was the last time you wrote anything of length for fun?
I don’t think I’m alone in having an interest in all things pen and pencil related, and if you are you might want to look at this:
James Ward’s book is a fascinating, if somewhat fact heavy account of the development of all things stationery. You may want to visit these people:
a magical place where you can find things you didn’t think you even needed! And they have a great newsletter.
So, when did you last put pen to paper? With all the Christmas card promises of “getting in touch with you next year”, delight someone by allowing them to receive some ‘snail mail’.