I’d Rather Break My Pen Than Yours

What I do is I buy in pens from wherever I can, restore them and sell them on. I don’t repair pens for other people and there’s a reason for that. You see, you’ll send me the precious pen left to you by your beloved grandmother, positively dripping with sentimental value, or that one very special pen you’ve spent half your life and much of your disposable income hunting down and acquiring, and I’ll break it. Irreparably. Nothing left but a sad little pile of useless fragments. And that’s absolutely certain to happen.

I’ve broken a few pens in my time. Ask any repairer and he’ll tell you the same, if he’s honest. I haven’t broken any in quite a while, though, several years in fact, she said, touching wood. To some degree, that’s luck, but mostly it’s patience and method. When I became serious about mending pens, I spent a while working on low-value to no-value old hacks – Platignums, Queensways and the like and pens that were irredeemably damaged, stained, faded or worn. I made my mistakes, I broke many pens and I gradually refined my methods of working. Most of all, I learned to reject The Demon Impatience and all his destructive ways. I like to keep up a good work-rate, but I don’t have deadlines. The recalcitrant pen that wants to hang onto its section can be put aside until tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. There are days when I’m not at my best and I know it would be a mistake to start on that fragile-barreled Eversharp. It can wait for a better day. There will be one along soon.

Having thusly retrained myself in pen repair zen, there’s nothing I’d rather do than fix pens. When I set up a line of pens to be restored, get all the tools I’ll need arranged just so and my boxes of spares and consumables are conveniently to hand, a peace descends upon me. I’ll be as happy as a sand-boy* assessing, disassembling, cleaning, adjusting and so on until there is a line of gleaming, restored pens and the whole day has passed by in a blink.

But I’d still break your Granny’s pen, so don’t ask me.

*Yes, I wondered what a sand-boy was and what he had to be so happy about too. It seems they were young lads who delivered sand to public houses, where it was used as a floor covering. They were often rewarded with glasses of ale, hence the happiness. Such a regime would not be conducive to good pen repair, I fear.


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