Tuesday, 1 June 2010

A Real Letter

A couple of days ago I was sitting at my roll-top desk

DSC09268 writing birthday cards and so on when I suddenly had the urge to write a ‘proper’ letter.  With the advent of emails my letter writing has almost ceased.  Sometimes I think this is a shame but then I realise that the ability more easily  to communicate outweighs the more lasting and personal qualities of a letter for most of our communications.  I do have a nostalgia however for the letter.  When a dear friend from my teens moved to Canada many years ago we communicated by letter weekly for many years.  I still have every one of those letters.  I don’t keep emails although we can speak more easily (ie cheaply) by phone nowadays too.  I was reminded of that because I used to start so many of my letters ‘It’s early morning and I’m on the Suilven….’  MV Suilven was the ferry that used to ply between Stornoway and Ullapool at nearly 4 hours a journey.  I am writing this posting on board her successor first thing in the morning as I ply the 2 hours and 40 minutes which the journey now takes. 

The other thing I miss is using a fountain pen.  I enjoy my fountain pens.  A while ago Heather happened to make the comment that she loved using a fountain pen.  It was that comment which made me decide that I was going to do a fountain pen posting.  So when I wrote my cards the other day I also wrote a letter and I used a fountain pen.  I opened the drawer in the desk with the pens in it and thought I’d lay them out for a photo.  Even I was quite surprised with how many I’ve amassed over the years.  The one in the front of the photo is a Parker which I have had since I was 9 and it has been in use constantly ever since.  Most of the official documents to which I affixed my signature during my career as a bureaucrat were signed using that pen.  It has been overhauled once over 35 years ago.  It says something for the quality of the ink sac that it has lasted since the overhaul and is still going strong.



  1. What a nice post. Admirable collection of pens you have there - and beautiful desk! I'm sure I must have written thousands of letters in my day... Often used a typewriter though, before the computer. I still exchange letters rather than emails with some friends.

  2. What a wonderful desk. Where is it from?

  3. Lovely desk, it does suit you! And what an array of fountain pens. I only have one but I love it. sometimes even indulge myself and write my grocery list with it!

  4. Monica: I'd forgoten about the typewiter! Mum had one and then my wife and I used one sometimes. I used to tupe things for my Great Uncle when I was young to on Mum's steam sit up and beg typewriter.

    Ian: It was Uncle Eric's. It's one of the few possessions I really care about. It was in my Uncle's house when I was knee high to a grasshopper (and it was probably old then). I decided as a young man that it had always to remain in the famly. Hopefully it will.

    Pauline: One reason I stopped using fountain pens all the time was because you can't do newspaper crosswords with them. I've now started using them again for other things. I even have diferent inks for different pens!

  5. What a beautiful desk. My parents are looking after a wooden desk that was Dad's Father's 21st present. It is now "owned" by my older sister, however the Folks are looking after it for her, for now (30 somthing years on......)

    The "real pens" are beautiful and wonderful. Is so good to read that you are still using your first "proper" pen. I hope you have many happy writing days over the Northern Hemisphere's warm and dry months (am sure you don't get the super high winter NZ humidity over there in Summer.

    I do so enjoy the pics of your garden there, please keep sharing them with us,

    Michelle down in Wellington, NZ (Zebbycat is mostly found under his battered quilt/comforter/blankie these days, a-purring or a-snoring, bless him)

  6. I always used a fountain pen for everything. A Parker. You've reminded me of that smooth soft delicious write you get with a pen that you've worn in to the angle of your hand. Why did I ever stop?

    I'm going to dig it out!

  7. Wow! There's a pen there for any mood you might be in! I think there might be a rush on fountain pen purchasing now!


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