Friday, 15 October 2010

His nibs

Yes, a fountain pen. I dug it out of the drawer the other day because I decided, for the first time in yonks, to hand-write a letter. The pen didn't work, or at least, it would work for a few lines then fade away. A fuel blockage. I spent the next half-hour rinsing it through with warm water, then with ammonia solution and finally stroking the nib with a fine artist's brush dipped in the same. It worked, and I was almost as chuffed as if I'd successfully resuscitated a Keihin flatslide.

Then this morning a postcard arrived from Ben P, which made me smile just to see his distinctive handwriting, and all this has reaffirmed to me that the hand-written word is a lovely thing. It's not all about emails and screens and printers. Which is perhaps why we like bikes that bare their shuddering, greasy arses and that need to be fettled and nurtured to keep them sweet. Hands on. It's what it's all about. MP

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