When I was a tiny little girl, I visited the Victoria & Albert Museum in London with my family to see an exhibition called Street Style. It was a photography exhibition with a lot of cool motorbike dudes dressed in black wearing Dr. Martens boots. Lots of Punks, Mods and Rockers. I loved it. My parents bought me a Street Style poster, on which a sneering motorbike dude greeted every visitor to my bedroom for my entire child and teenagerhood.
I remember really wanting a Dr. Martens pen from the gift shop. (I’ve always been excited by a stationary display!). At the time, I was just learning to write, and my Dad allowed me a ball point Dr. Martens pen. I spied a Dr. Martens fountain pen, and reeeeeeeeeeeeally wanted it, because I’d seen my Dad writing with fountain pens and they looked so cool and elegant. Despite my protests and assurances that I really was a very good writer, my Papa pointed out that I might be too young for a fountain pen, as I was only just learning to write and would probably press too hard and break the nib. But he bought it for me and kept it until my writing style became more easy and relaxed. A couple of years later, when I was about 8 or so, (and when I was no longer trying to force my pen tip through the paper as I formed my words) true to his word, my Dad gave me the Dr. Martens fountain pen for my birthday. I was so pleased! I loved the little ink cartridges that you pushed in, breaking the seal against the spike inside to release the ink.
I discovered that WHSmith sold coloured ink cartridges, so I used to buy bright pink and turquoise cartridges to write letters to my friends in; as well as black ones, to have my own small rebellion against the regulation blue ink we were supposed to use in school. I used that pen in school everyday, right up until I was in college, where the casing at last became too cracked to use any longer.
I loved writing with that fountain pen, and I have never been able to find another one that felt so nice to write with. All the other ones that I have ever tried felt alien in my hand and made my handwriting look strange. My new favourite pen became the humble plastic bic (in plain black ink, thank you please!). I particularly like the one I have at the moment, the end curved round, as if Salvador Dali had had something to do with it. I actually found the pen in question at the end of the winter, trapped underneath the radiator in the van. It had endured an entire season of heat, and the end had been bent round, and then set in the cool of the spring.
My inner eco-warrior began to worry that disposable bic pens, lovely as they were to write with, may not be a sustainable solution. The more I wrote, the more empty plastic carcasses would be tossed aside. I imagined all the other bic users in the world, adding their discarded pens to the endless trash mountain that we are poisoning our planet with. This just will not do, I thought! I remember reading in Gorgeously Green about an old-school fountain pen that was recommended as being green, because you bought the beautiful pen and a bottle of ink, and drew the ink up into the pen like in the “olden days”, therefore reducing the amount of waste. A pen for a lifetime! I considered this, and knew that I’d never be able to replace the Dr. Martens fountain pen. My Dad came to my stationary dilemma rescue, buying me a J Herbin rollerball set. I loved being able to choose three colours of ink cartridges, and I love the feel of the pen when I write with it. Isn’t it funny as a writer how important your simple tools can be?
Sometimes nothing delights me more than the small pleasure of new stationary. So I just bought myself another J. Herbin pen, and another 3 colours of ink cartridges, so I can write in two colours. For only £10 you receive a pen, and three little containers of coloured ink cartridges of your choice. I also purchased a Clairefontaine vintage-style notebook. A new notebook for a new chapter of thoughts, ideas and adventures: I am set for this summer!
What are your tools for writing? Do you have a favourite pen or notebook, or any memories of precious writing implements?