My Favorite Pen


My Favorite Pen

This is my oldest Mont Blanc fountain pen. I must have bought it in 1986 when I traveled to London to attend a Spanish Golden Age seminar at one of the university colleges. I can’t remember which, though I do remember the seminar was on someone called Francisco de Quevedo. We met like spies, my pen friend and I, on the steps of the British Museum. I had never met him before, so he carried a specific book under his arm, one of Quevedo’s I think, by which I would recognize him. We lunched together at an Italian Trattoria, whose name also escapes me, and we discussed the ways of that ancient Hispanic world and our own research upon it. I paid for our lunch from my travel funds. I had a sabbatical that year and had arranged a short tour of four or five British universities in my search for knowledge. After lunch, he took me back to his London college and I sat and absorbed wisdom from 2:00 until 5:00 pm.

After the seminar, walking back to the nearest tube station, I passed a shop that had this Mont Blanc in the window. I went in and bought it. On the spot. No second thoughts. Then I caught the tube to Paddington station. While waiting for the train back to Cardiff, I sat in the station bar and ordered a pint of beer. A well-dressed man, slightly older than me, asked if he could join me. I said yes. He sat down and began to talk. He told me how to commit suicide by slashing my wrist with a knife.  There were many incorrect ways to do it, he explained. But only one right way, if you wanted to be successful. He rolled up his sleeve and showed me his collection of scars that ran crisscross and welted over his left wrist. Failed attempts, he said. But I’ll get it right next time. I wouldn’t want you to make the same mistakes as me, if you decided to try it.

Must go, I told him. My train’s about to leave. I left the remains of my pint on the table, looked back, and watched him finishing my beer. Good job I didn’t spit in it, I thought. Then I realized that I probably had, one way or another. I boarded my train and 90 minutes later I was back in Cardiff. No more post-war, coal and steam engines, a diesel this, powerful, fast, and smelly. It reduced the former four hour journey to much, much less than two. Cafeteria style, the train carriage offered a table top for every four seats. I opened my new pen and wrote in the pocket journal I had bought for the trip.

So many memories. But I don’t remember the names of either of these two men. I do recall those scars, though, deep and ridged, crisscrossing like railway tracks. Every time we clicked over a junction or a cross track I shivered and my writing wiggled on the page.


8 thoughts on “My Favorite Pen

    • All pens,when loved, have memories, even the youngest of them. The trick is to know how to free those memories, how to help them flow from the ink reservoir down to the nib which is the heart and brain of the pen. When the memories get to the nib, they start to flow out with the ink and your job then is to guide them out of the pen and on to and across the page. It’s quite simple, really, but it does take a little practice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I still have my Mont Blanc. A Christmas present from my husband Julien December 2014. We were on our way. Just married. Leaving London Heathrow on our honeymoon to Sri Lanka. I keep it in my handbag. It’s always with me. He’s my pen to paper and the words to my novel. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “The stars tonight are big and bright” … luckily the snow storm has passed over. Only 6 inches of snow, though much ore elsewhere. So glad you communicate with and through your pen, so very important. Big day in Murrayfield next Saturday. All best wishes.


    • Thanks, Tanya. I may continue this type of post. A photo of a favorite object and the tale of where I got it or what it means to me. The man in the bar was weird! I haven’t thought about him for years, but when I wrote about that day in London, up he popped like a jack-in-the-box.

      Liked by 1 person

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