As long as I am alive and able there will never be a time when I will not write about pens. Unfortunately I can no longer spend as much time on pens as I have done but every aspect of fountain pens continues to be what I do; they define me.
There is much pleasure to be had in buying pens. Hours can be passed in eBay assessing what’s there, what are possible purchases, which eventually are bid upon and which become successes. There is always the possibility that upon arrival some of these pens may disappoint. Much rougher, perhaps, than they appeared in cleverly deceptive photos and evasive descriptions. That’s okay; eBay is better now than it used to be. If they are bad enough, pens go back. Otherwise, it’s just a little more work and even greater satisfaction when a shabby relic of former times becomes a handsome, efficient writer.
There’s pleasure even in presenting for sale. I have taken photographs all my life. My subject matter has narrowed down to a pen, a slender object a few inches long that can still reward when the image is good.
I research almost constantly. I go online to check the Post Office’s opening hours and suddenly I’m chasing vague mentions of the latest rarity that has come my way. I can lose a lot of time that way, or perhaps it isn’t lost, only diverted for future use. Someone has had their name engraved upon a pen; I do my best to hunt them down and discover their story. An inscribed pen brings its former associations with it. When you write with it, you have the ghost of its original owner at your shoulder – benign, I hope!
And then there’s the communication and sociability. Pen people seem to be mostly gregarious. I live too remotely for fountain pen get-togethers or shows but there is correspondence in snail-mail and email. I have friends – and they surely are friends though we only talk about fountain pens – with whom I have been in communication for decades. Due to the Internet, the intervening thousands of miles are as nothing. Thank you, Internet!
Today has not been an especially pen day as there were other things that made more urgent claims upon my time and attention but I still managed to buy a few pens, fix a few, pack up several for dispatch and, between other essentials, scribble this.