Monday, October 13, 2003
Sleek and stylishly silver, but with just the right "chunkiness" so it's not girly, my Cross Townsend is the fountain-pen you could imagine in the delicate hands of a sensitive young poet, coming up with one final heart-rending verse before knocking back the laudanum; or a member of the jeunesse dorée, signing away for squillions the rights to his as yet unpublished masterpiece as he thoughtfully sips his Ricard on the banks of the Seine.
I bought it for round about ninety quid ten years ago, and I never regretted the purchase. There's really nothing like a fine-nibbed fountain-pen for giving expression and character to your handwriting. It's a dead giveaway of your emotions too. I once used it to write my personal journal: the times when I was on an emotional up, my words are bold and well-rounded; when things were spiralling downwards, then the characters are all spiky and cramped.
I say "once" because about five years ago, the nib became buggered and clogged through overuse, and it proved impossible to write with. It was only this weekend I finally got my act together and bought a replacement nib. (Have you ever tried to find a decent pen shop lately? And don't even think about looking for blotting paper.)
My anticipation of once again writing reams of witty correspondence in my distinctively long and flowing Cursive hand lasted about half a sentence. Over the past five years, my fingers, probably just like yours, have been keyboarded to death. I can't even remember how to hold the fountain-pen properly anymore, and more than two paragraphs of continuous handwritten prose is impossible. That's probably just as well, as my once-fine handwriting now resembles nothing more than a series of badly hacked-out Norse runes.
Nowadays everyone can type, and personal correspondence for most of them means a two-line E-mail. Somewhere along the way we've lost the art of good penmanship – and probably along with it the art and joy of letter-writing. I find that rather sad.
Now, please excuse me: I must just text my agent, and then sign the contract. Now, where's my Biro?