“My fountain pens have dried up. But it doesn’t matter, for I forgotten how to use them.”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pens and Pencils.”

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?

“My fountain pens have dried up.
But it doesn’t matter, for I forgotten how to use them.”

I can no longer recall the last time I used a proper pen, gold (coloured) nib, bottle of ink, beautiful enamel or such like case. They were expensive, fragile and lasted a lifetime. Provided of course that you used them. Otherwise like mine they appear to dry up!

I was twelve or so when I was forcibly introduced to the pleasure and pain that was an ink pen. An Osmiroid. That was the make. We had a new English teacher; he was tyrannical, old, and old fashioned. He actually held up my exercise book in front of the class as an example of wretched writing. I was mortified. I can still recall it. In hindsight, it could probably have been anyone in the class, we all used the cheapest possible ball point pens, Biro’s we knew them as after the Hungarian inventor. They were cheap, cheerful, and inimical to decent handwriting.

Our teacher’s name was Barr and he went on to stipulate that we all purchased and used an ink pen. He even specified the precise make, model right down to the nib style. The pen’s colour was our only freedom. Soon we were all armed with shiny new pens, complete with the mandated medium italic nibs. What a laugh, they were impossible to use. They filled by dipping the nib into an ink bottle, and twisting the end of the pen. A small clear reservoir at the top of the pen then filled with ink. Inevitably we split ink; the nibs scratched, and we broke them. But he frightened me and I persevered.

An Osmiroid fountain pen circa 1970's.

The image is from Ravens March Fountain Pens Under Creative Commons License, this looks exactly like the pens I used.

Soon I found I could write with it, as long as I went slowly. He showed us how to form each letter using the italic nib. Most fountain pen nibs are ball shaped; ours were broad and flat, like a chisel. I began to improve, and as I wrote more slowly, the quality of my writing began to improve too. And he encouraged me, and I began to enjoy writing.

Mr Barr had a theatrical background, he taught us to love Shakespeare and poetry. I grew to love him too, I was to learn so much from him. That, though is a story for another day, or Daily Post 🙂


2 thoughts on ““My fountain pens have dried up. But it doesn’t matter, for I forgotten how to use them.”

  1. I had a whole set of calligraphy pens and I could do some very nice — not super fancy, but nice — calligraphy. I wouldn’t even know how to start anymore … or really want to. Strange, because I genuinely enjoyed learning calligraphy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Marilyn, I did try to get into calligraphy too having learnt to wield the italic pen. I never quite made it. It was perhaps a step too far. I continue to be fascinated by it though. I love, for example, Chinese writing for that reason, to me it is both art and writing, wrapped up together.


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