Much to my Grandfather's dismay my penmanship, despite many an experiment with how I turn the flick of a y or top / decline to top my letter a with a little inky cap, has always been somewhat lacking. With the advent of computers and a typing speed akin to a 1960's secretary, some might consider this unimportant, yet my Granddad has long believed the illegibility of my writing will one day extend into illegibility in all things and I will end up taking shelter in a box somewhere beneath a railway bridge. A soggy box at that.
My husband on the other hand has beautiful writing. The kind of writing one only expects old ladies, versed in the art of correct cursive, to have. I've stolen three or four letters from him in the few years we've been together, including a fetching capital A.
I have toyed with the idea of a calligraphy class. I even bought a book. The long and short of it is I can't really be faffed. Handwriting analysts struggling to identify the author of a poison letter rely not on how the letter is constructed: anyone can easily add a little flick here or square up their vowels there, but on the form, that is the path taken through a letter, which, once learnt, rarely changes throughout life. I'm a lost cause really. There is, however, a small and inexpensive trick that you might find improves the look of your words ten fold with no greater effort than popping down the stationers demands. Change your pen.
Little did I know that for twenty something years I had been forcing writing designed for the nib of a fountain pen to fit a common ball point. No wonder.
- If eligibility is your problem: letters merging into one another, smudging your consonants, then go for something precise with a fine tip to counteract your natural smudginess. A personal favourite the Stabilo 88 is great for drawing too and comes in every colour under the sun, just about. You can buy a pack of ten for under a fiver. Slightly more expensive is the Pilot Needlepoint range, ideal if you're stuck on using a ballpoint.
- For those of a more traditional bent, little beats a classic Parker. Here's one in a retro green.
- Okay, so, strictly speaking, in fact, speaking in any sort of way, the palomino blackwing is a pencil. It is however the mother of all pencils when it comes to writing and has a legacy that few other leaded wooden implements can measure up to. Ideal if you're prone to crossing out and scribbling as it comes equipped with a rubber that is remarkably good if left un-chewed.
- Writing dull? lacking in flair? Never fear, the Pilot Lettering Pen will solve all your problems with one swoosh of its cleverly slanted nib. I reserve this one for birthday cards.
- Chunky mitts better suited to a fatter pen? Fancy wearing your shiny implement round your neck a la Joan of Mad Men fame? Then go for this classy article from the Conran shop.
- A pen for a new age in office stationery. The Uni-ball Jetstream is loved by left-handers, dispensing just enough ink and drying faster than a whippet on a hot day, it won't leave your notes blotted with black prints in the form of the side of your hand.
- Straying into ridiculously expensive territory here but bear with. The Pilot Vanishing Point is a pinnacle of design. If nib envy is what you're after, then this is the badger.
- Finally you'll need something to keep them all in. I've long had my eye on this leather pen case from Manufactum. There is even space to hide your stamps in the upper pocket once that beautifully crafted letter is complete.