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What is the sound of one hand clapping?

Posted by Dirck on 1 February, 2010

Because that’s all that will be heard out of me for the next week or so.

This weekend involved a certain amount of struggle, which has bled into this morning– today’s pen would simply not feed until about 10:30, when it became biddable once again (which means I put it under the microscope when I get home).

Saturday, with my son sleeping something like a normal infant once again (leading us to think he’s unwell), I engaged in what proved to be a protracted struggle with the most contumelious, contrary and ill-natured Parker “51” I’ve yet encountered. About the time the tiny despot was waking, I had discovered why the pen was acting as it did– a bad upbringing. Some bright light in ages past had used some sort of adhesive on almost every part of the pen meant to disassemble. The hood was stuck, the filler stuck in the barrel, the point stuck in the collector (!) and worst of all the threaded part of the filler stuck in the conical part (I offer an anatomical view of this sort of pen for those not right up on the technical details). This last is fairly disasterous, because the conical bit, and the diaphragm it supports, really must not turn while the filler is being reintroduced to the barrel. I have not actually got this problem sorted as yet.

Someone had also had a go at getting at the point without removing the hood, damaging both. The hood is one of the parts I mentioned previously. I think I’ve got the point sorted out, at least to being functional. It fills the heart with wrath and other unhealthy things that displace the blood that belongs there.

This is not the reason, though, for my semi-unidexterity. I mentioned at some point in the distant past my connection with the Society for Creative Anachronism. Now that my son is old enough to appreciate it and my wife is desperate for any reason at all to get out of the house, I have started to attend our combat practices with renewed regularity.

This is, if not a martial art, at least a martial skill. It may be a glorification of the sort of playing “swords” kids all do if presented with a twig, an appropriate context (just saw Robin Hood or similar), and sufficient parental distraction, but it’s something we take reasonably seriously. Fake swords, real armour, and hitting with the sort of speed and force we believe would get the sword to do its business were it real.

Through presenting an awkward defence to a left-handed partner, therefore, I got to make a terrible little squeaking noise and amuse my son deeply. It’s just a couple of guys playing “swords”, yes, but when hit on the pink underside of the wrist by a burly chap using a four-foot long rattan club about and inch and a half around, the distinction between play and real gets extremely blurry.

Nothing broken, and I can very nearly grip things full strength again. But it is a valuable lesson on the limitations of both armour and one’s own stoicism. I’m sure glad it’s not my right hand.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Statesman snorkel
Today’s ink: Skrip blue-black (which amazingly doesn’t describe my hand).

Post Scriptus: I notice that today is, by the reckoning of the Ottawa Fountain Pen Society, Stylophile’s Day. If you’re not afraid of getting ink on you, go hug a pen loonie.

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