I came back to the world of analogue tools via planners. Running a money transfer company, I had gone all in on the digital, but missed my old paper planners. I started researching what was available, and fell into a rabbit hole that might, in fact, be a black hole. I’m still falling.
Planners revived my interest in writing instruments, which drove me to seek out paper, and thence notebooks. At about the same time I started reading and listening to the Pen Addict. I got so into the analogue, that I bought a website that sells notebooks.
Earlier this week, a friend came for a socially-distanced dinner. Restrictions have been slightly relaxed here in Cyprus. Jackie wanted to note down some recommendations that I had made her on wine.
She pulled out her pocket diary and a pencil. I twitched. The pencil was blunt. Gently, I proposed sharpening it for her - resisting the urge to snatch it from her hands. I couldn't tell you what pencil it was: It was an unbranded, yellow pencil and twice the point broke as I hand sharpened it.
“No, no, no. This won’t do at all.”
My guest watched, bemused, as I disappeared, returning moments later with a Field Notes Archive box full of pencils, and my treasured Musgrave Cedar pencil box. She was genuinely alarmed when I urged her to “sniff the box.”
I passed her a Blackwing 602. “Try that.” I enjoined.
I suspect that her instinct for self-preservation would ensure a positive enthusiastic response, whatever her true feelings. When a deranged fellow is thrusting pencils at you, best to say you like them, I’d say. However, she couldn't fake the look. Her eyes widened, with genuine surprise and pleasure as she wrote.
“Oh! That’s lovely.” She beamed.
For the next ten minutes, I gave her a brief glimpse into my passion for pencils. Taking her on a tour of Blackwing, Musgrave, and Tombow, with honourable mentions for all the other wonderful brands.
“A pencil is nice, but I do like a good pen. I remember when my Dad gave me my first fountain pen...”
“No! Don't say that!” Mrs L was only half joking.
I unzipped my Lochby Quattro with a flourish and took Jackie from a Kaweco Sport in plastic, to a chunky Brass version, to a Sailor Pro Gear to a Pelikan M800.
“If you think four is a lot - you need to go see his desk. I borrowed the office the other day. I shudder to think how much he has spent on pens...”
Hurriedly I topped up everyone's wine and swiftly changed the subject.
“Oh look, this ink smudges a bit...”
“That’s called feathering - the Pelikan has a broad nib, and lays down a lot of ink. Paper choice is very ...”
“Stuart. Stop. We’re having dinner.”
Dutifully, I obeyed. But Jackie took down a couple of websites that I’d mentioned. She left with a fistful of pencils and a sharpener, to explore.
What a joy it is to introduce someone to a passion. That’s why online stationery communities are such generous places. There is no greater pleasure for a stationery nerd than bringing a newbie to the light.