Friday 21 May 2010


woman writing henry clive

Over at French Village Life, ElizabethD recently posted about writing, and described herself as "A Scribbler at Heart"

It set me thinking about the way we write things down and how it has changed over the years.

kells In centuries gone by, when vellum was costly, monks laboured for hours in the Scriptorium, copying out the Scriptures- the precious Word of God, beautifully illuminated. A highlight of my holiday in Ireland in 2008 was going to Trinity College Dublin, and seeing the Book Of Kells.

inkwell My first real ink pen was one which had to be filled from an ink bottle. In fact, our desks at school had little white ceramic inkwells like this one, and one term, I was Ink Monitor and had the job of going round the class ensuring they were filled.

markers Then came the advent of felt pens, and cheap ballpoints, rollerballs and Sharpie Markers, gel pens, highlighters, metallic pens ...

A thousand different ways to write your message.

I have a whole pot of assorted writing implements on the desk in front of me as I type this.

But there is something lovely about writing the first words on a fresh sheet of paper, the first page of a pristine notebook, the new diary entry for January 1st.

I loathe the current trend for 'whiteboards and dry-wipe markers' in school. The children put down their answer, wave the board at me, then rub it off almost immediately [usually with their sleeve, or a grubby finger!] There is no sense of permanence for them, no compulsion to do it neatly.

queen writing As a child, I remember reading [probably in "Look And Learn" or some other worthy children's periodical] that "Queen Elizabeth never uses a ballpoint pen, as the permanence of the ink has not been proven. What she writes must last for posterity" and was terribly impressed by this thought. I suppose HRH isn't bothered about writing trivial notes [2 pints milk, eggs, post letter, go to bank]

For Marriage Certificates, Bob is required by law to use a fountain pen and Stephens Blue Black Ink - sadly the signatures often last longer than the marriages.

I love real handwriting. Like ElizabethD, I am a scribbler. But I have preferred tools for different tasks.

Crosswords - biro, Killer Sudoku - pencil, naming things - Sharpie markers, correspondence - rollerball or fountain pen.

And I am fond of random scribblings

  • I write messages on bananas with biros.
  • I use felt pens to write loving notes on the paper napkins I tuck in packed lunches for the family
  • I use my finger to draw hearts in the condensation on the window [Ang Loves Bob. TRUE XXX]
  • I doodle round the edge of agendas when sitting in boring meetings
  • I make notes for sermons in the back of my filofax [I confess that sometimes I do this when someone else is preaching!]

But I don't write messages on my hand, or deface library books, or use marker pens to put graffiti on other people's property.

Writing is a precious gift and we should never take it for granted.

In the beginning was The Word...


  1. My primary school had 'proper' ink wells too. They were always getting spilt by naughty little boys!
    Maria (Me and Ma) suggested a letter swap, so I'm arranging one!

  2. What a great post! I love pretty stationary and a real quill pen, that I can change the tip on to suit the mood I'm in as to how the finished product will look! And what about erasable ink?? A few years ago, Bic came out with erasable ink pens. The university professors thought this was wonderful. The papers would be in ink, neat, and well-written, because the mistake could be erased. Well, so much for keeping any of those papers long term. After a few years, the ink fades and eventually disappears!! What a waste!
    God bless and have a wonderful weekend,


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