Followers of Off The Record will know that fountain pens play a major part in the life of my family.
There was the original 1935 Parker Duofold nib whose flexibility, so proudly advertised by Geo. S. Parker Inc in the golden age, proved no match for a one-year-old explorer. There was the pride in a little boy who, having earned his scribbling spurs, was allowed to write with the great instrument of paternal script and treasures the moment to this day.
We’ve now graduated to a new stage in a boy’s life. It may not have the religious weight of a bar mitzvah or the life-staged solemnity of the first stroke of an adolescent razor, but he nonetheless has earned the right to his Own Inky Pen. It’s a promise I made a year ago, when his writing practice from school started in earnest and we needed a carrot to add to the stick of “if you don’t learn to write well, nobody will take your ideas seriously” that’s my firmly held view on life. So every evening he’s been forming his letters, crafting increasingly complex sentences with tongue poking out in furrowed concentration, striving valiantly to make the letter “s” the same height as a “n,” distributing punctuation only as a precision-stroke rather than the carpet-bombing grammatical napalm of many fellow citizens.
The Inky Pen was presented with great ceremony and unbearable excitement after his “Best Effort For Writing” in school. He danced. Literally.
It is yellow, just like Dad’s vintage Parker, and they sit together in pride of place on Dad’s Desk. It has a pointed nib. And, just as the adolescent hunter’s puppy face is blooded with the browning stripes of his first kill, he now wears the smudges of ink on his fingers and thumb.