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The Desert Island, Part 1

Posted by Dirck on 29 December, 2015

With the impending new year, I’m taking a little bit of time off from the creative writing to engage in some non-creative writing.

Wait… I don’t think I said that right.

Anyway, after the great cull of my pen horde in the September, I find myself occasionally turning over the idea of further reductions in the heap of pens that spend much of their time not being written with.  Inconclusive thoughts, certainly, and frequently transforming into more familiar fantasies of what glories a Waterman Edson or an Eversharp Decoband might bear if inserted into my life.  I’m certainly not planning another vast selling off, nor even moving a few things out.   Just… musing about a simplified roster.

So, in the great BBC tradition, I’ve decided to compose a variant of the Desert Island Discs list.  Were I to find myself tossed upon an unknown shore, what would I wish Fate to toss there as well to keep me happy in my Crusoe-like writing down of what the days there hold?  I’m starting with inks rather than pens to put them in, in part because without ink there’s little point to a pen, and in part because I am thinking more seriously about reducing the vast and slightly redundant heap of bottles I ponder over every time the need to refill comes upon me.

These are in ascending order of preference, so if there are any clever people looking at this and saying, “Oh, sure, but what if you could only have X-1 inks rather than X?” they can start lower on the list.

I know that the format of the BBC original allows to eight choices, but I’m not going to go so far.  With inks, I think four is enough to enjoy life well enough, and at the bottom of this short list is Diamine Evergreen.  I look upon this as a fine replacement for Montblanc’s lamented Racing Green, and it just nudges out Vert Empire by dint of its greater weight on the page.  I would hate to have no green ink at all, given its association with barking mad letters to the editor in England– the mental dissolution of the castaway is a well-known phenomenon, and it would be nice to give my eventual raving lunatic self a chance at full expression.

Lie de Thé makes the cut for two reasons.  First, it is far and away my favorite brown ink, with wonderful shading that nothing else on this list really offers.  Second, it is the one ink out of all of these likely to remain most legible after immersion.  I’m not too concerned about this aspect, since I envision my digs on the island being a water-tight palace of bamboo and palm-fronds (the name HOWELL likely visible, pyrographed onto a slab of driftwood above the door, and from the west window of the upper floor one might see a coconut shell and sisal gibbet still holding the remains of Gilligan), but if the notion of banging a note into a bottle ever overcomes me, this would be the ink to apply to the job.

Pelikan black comes along because sometimes one is simply overwhelmed by the urge to write in the most traditional of inks; “inky blackness” doesn’t get quite as much press these days as it once did, but it’s still a cliché for a reason.  Pelikan’s version of it is one of the more generally virtuous blacks, being quite dark and extremely willing to play along with most pens.

Jentle blue-black is an ink that I think I would chose as the last ink on Earth, were such a choice pressed upon me.  The sample doesn’t begin to hint at how well it looks on paper, especially a good paper like Rhodia or that stuff The Professor made out of Gilligan’s spare trousers after the latter stopped needing them.  It has the presence of a strong black, it has the illegitimate nostalgia of a brown, and I have yet to find a pen it doesn’t work in.

That’s it for the inks.  Tomorrow we’ll begin to think about pens.  I should mention that I welcome comments on this and its brother entries even more than is the usual state– I am curious to find what the drop-dead, last-ditch inks my readers would choose might be.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Cartridge (because, due to a distraction at a vital moment, I neglected something more interesting at home and this was waiting for me at work)
Today’s ink: Diamine Prussian Blue

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2 Responses to “The Desert Island, Part 1”

  1. Name said

    When I threw most of my inks overboard during The Great Cull many moons ago, I kept Lie de Thé, for precisely the reasons that you mention. My final bottle of MB Racing Green also survived, but I don’t dip into it much these days as I find that Diamine Salamander, more so than Evergreen, is an excellent substitute.

    • Dirck said

      Uh-oh… another Diamine ink I want to try. I was pondering whether it would be Evergreen or Sherwood that got onto the list– the latter is a slightly more jolly manifestation of very dark green, and I do like it a lot. I’ve got rather more than a half-bottle of the MBRG left, too, but it hardly gets used because one of my more foolish elements begins whining “They don’t make it any more!” whenever I move to undo the cap.

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