Before I get to the main meat of today’s entry, I want to vent off some bile that developed during the vacation– my spleen is dangerously swollen from it. There is this person in my neighbourhood with a car, you see.
Yes, yes. Actually, as far as I can make out, most neighbourhoods have one of these, so I’m sure my whine with resonate with many others. The car in question has, so far as I can tell, never left the garage it squats in during my whole time living in the current digs. It is there to be shown the sun when the weather is fine, to rumble its enormous V8 engine through an elderly and inefficient muffler, and to give its owner something to make a lot of noise with for about an hour a week. VRRRAAAM! it goes, then BRRRRAAAAAH! Then a few more minutes of idling at what must be about a litre of fuel used every forty seconds before running up to the red-line again. But not, alas, above it.
What bothers me is this– if he’s trying to fix it (and I assign the masculine gender for mere convenience in writing), one would think seven or eight years of summer weekends would have provided sufficient time to figure out what the problem was or admit that the problem was beyond his powers. There are some odd pastimes in this world of ours, a statement of which I’m living proof, but I really don’t see the joy in spending your summers with your face inside an engine compartment just to listen to the roaring of an engine which apparently will never provide motive force to the car it’s in. I’m frequently tempted to give him with a claim against his fire insurance, but in this age of home CCTV that temptation has to be left lying.
There. Now, on to the real point of today’s not-writing-fiction, which is to ponder aloud. I got, about two weeks ago, a box of pens. This was a surprise, as no boxes of pens were expected, and since there was in the news at the time a bit of a panic about letter-bombs I will admit that I had a small tremor when I opened it (carefully, with my left hand, sheltering my head behind a door-frame). Tremor was replaced with joy when I looked within. A trove of fountain pens. Many needing a little work to be… moderately functional, really, which is all many of them are capable of. Italian knock-offs of the Parker “51” from the past, and some more modern Indian pens which are affordable to a high degree. A few little treasures that just need setting up on their feet, like a Waterman Citation whose decorative clear end crumbled in the usual way of clear decorative Waterman ends.
This whole extravaganza, along with a book I can share with my son, was sent by a sometimes-client and regular reader of this nonsense– I won’t name them, and I really must get down to writing the thank-you note for them– who thought that I was probably a good recipient of such things on the grounds that skills need regular stropping to remain sharp. These were, in the donor’s opinion, an extremely stroppy bunch of pens, and were nothing but a source of vexation at that end of the postal system but could potentially do some good at this end.
Absolutely. I’ve admitted several times here my promiscuous nature regarding pens; I have enough love in my heart to welcome almost anything with an ink reservoir and two functional tines (almost anything). I take these pens in the spirit of their giving, and will practice upon them.
But then there’s the matter of what to do with them once they are as good as they can possibly be. “Give ’em away” is the easy answer, but that’s at the strategic level, and my question is more of tactics. The Italians, which I haven’t given much of a looking at, are the sort of thing I wouldn’t want to inflict on someone who wasn’t already familiar with fountain pens, because if they’re like the one I’ve already got the points will fold up under as much pressure as the weight of the pen itself can apply, and because they’re apt to leave my hands with certain filler foibles uncorrected. The Indian pens are a little more robust, at least, despite being semi-disposeable, and could be given to someone interested in fountain pens to see if that interest would translate into a practical application… but then there’s the “who?” and “by what means chosen?” questions to examine. Pen Collectors of America has their Pens for Kids initiative, and I could just ship them along at the appropriate time… but despite my membership, I am not in America, and I’d like to see the benefit accrue locally.
The flip-side of that last thought– it’s great to aspire to be a Johnny Appleseed of pens, but acting on that aspiration is fraught. Time, making contact with educational organizations, having enough pens to fulfill interest… because the trove was substantial for an individual, but one moderate school-room worth of happy, inky-fingered kids and I’ve essentially emptied the box.
Matters to ponder. I ponder publicly, in hopes of inspiration striking some member of my readership and passing it on in comments. The donor is, of course, exempt from that exercise, having already worked out what to do about this grateful over-burden.
Today’s pen: Parker “51”
Today’s ink: Diamine Sherwood Green