Pushing Her Nibs

9 Oct

Why? Why would anyone in the world NOT want to put pen to paper? To reach out, to inform, to entertain or to explain themselves via the written word? I had never understood those who didn’t like to write.

Until I bred a family of aliens. (Although they think that it is I, who happens to be the odd one out…)

I started this blog after a bit of a personal journey. One that involved having to do rather a lot of swotting up about dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia. Not dysentry so far – although my other half now tells me that he was admitted to hospital with this as a toddler. So we seem to have ticked that box too (no jokes about this not being too much of a surprise, what with him being from Birmingham and everything. He is very sensitive about anti-Brummie jibes.)

Thanks to the lovely people from the charity Potential Plus UK,  I’ve  learned lots about human intelligence and learning differences. And I’ve made some wonderful friends along the way who, on the ‘trickier’ days, remind me that the brightest sparks in the world often struggle with the bizarre cobbled-together thing that we call the english language – and which is a never-ending battle for those with dyslexia.

mind games article and comp CHRON

The Mam writes. She writes books! Oooh – bully for her. Not everyone can write like a woman possessed.

So, that’s all very nice for me. But when you’re the little kid and you look around and see everyone else doing the 3 R’s  beautifully, it really can sap your confidence.  My own gal looks at me writing away (by hand, or keyboard) and often sits there saying “Oh…I wish I could do that…I wish that I could write like you can!” I try not to answer back “well, practice makes perfect”- because let’s face it. It doesn’t always. And there is nowt worse than someone for whom something comes so easily, telling you that *you* just need to try harder.

But a couple of weeks ago I had a little idea in order to Up The Writing Ante for my girl. Following a bit of a mum-daughter spat, I chucked a notebook at her (not literally – although I was quite tempted to at the time…) and said “Look! Just write a diary! Write about how horrible and mean I am in it. It will make you feel better. It certainly worked for me when your grandparents were being  being particularly evil and acting like the worst parents ever.”

She warmed to the idea (apart from the fact that she had to actually *write*.) And then came idea number two. It suddenly occurred to me that kids today are missing out on what truly was a Rite of Passage in the writing stakes. When we were nippers, at our schools in Manchester (probably all over the UK), we all had to write in pencil – until our writing had become neat enough in order that we were ‘allowed’ to use a fountain pen.

Oh the pride – the sheer joy – of choosing your first little fountain pen! Shall it be a long cartridge sort? Or shall I use a pen that goes with the short stubby little ones?  Do I want to use a pointy nib? Or a flat-tipped one so that I can make my letters look all-medieval scripty?

I started getting all dreamy, waxing lyrical about those fond recollections… and then she goes;

“What’s a fountain pen?” So it was off to the shops for me.

Two weeks later we have a kid who every night, writes her diary religiously. “Because it feels so beautiful and smooth with the ink flowing. I can’t stop writing! I love it now!”

My treasured fountain pen and the lass's own new pen ("Even though it's Hello Kitty - it's still the best pen ever!")

My treasured fountain pen and the lass’s own new pen (“Even though it’s Hello Kitty – what I can’t stand – it’s still the best pen ever!”)

So sure – give me your ipads and your computer keyboards and your wii things. But let us not forget that some of the oldies are the best. And if you struggle with holding a pen and letter formation – then using the ancient methods might well be the preferred choice for you and yours…


It’s a dying breed, it is. It needs to be resurrected.

(And – as child number 2 noted “It’s really cool cause you can shake the ink everywhere. And probably stab someone with it!”)








7 Responses to “Pushing Her Nibs”

  1. Clive Rymer October 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I ‘get’ this tactile thing, but I’m too lazy 😏. I love the texture of the keyboard and the swish of cut/paste and the satisfying click if spell check.
    As I review this comment I realise that you are a published author and I am a two bit hack on a low circulation free mag. Time for a reality check, methinks. 😨.

    • funnylass October 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Not at all Clive! I love the keyboard too…. my ma was a school secretary and taught me on the old clacky-clack hardcore typewriters. I miss them. Those were the days when…. you ended up with a sprained wrist after just ten minutes of typing…

  2. juliathorley October 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I agree with Sharon: this is a lovely post. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories. I enter the Daily Telegraph crossword comp most Saturdays, for which the prize is a fountain pen. Now I’m even more determined that ever to win one!

    • funnylass October 10, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      I am banking on you winning it! Do me a favour and when you do….bob back here and tell me – send me a photo. We shall Parade That Pen for all to appreciate! X

      • juliathorley October 13, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

        Will do – but don’t hold your breath!

  3. Sharon Alison Butt October 9, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    Oh Chris, this has made me laugh and cry! I used to think I had Dyspraxia coz I can’t sit still and have the attention span of a five yr old. I’m glad that’s another Dys missing at your end.

    You are a great mum and it’s wonderful to hear all about your endeavours to help your cute wee one and educate the rest of us.

    I know 3 girls who are severely dyslexic who went to Uni, had a fan time and graduated within the required timescale.

    But who cares about such things? I barely scraped through my O’Levels and I never got one in Maths. Yet I worked for HSBC for 16 yrs and would count more than 1/4 million £ each Monday when M&S banked their weekend takings.

    As for fountain pens…love ’em! I used to swap between the cartridge ones and the suction thingys – which one has she got?

    Great fun! They do indeed make one love writing. I guess you’ll be stocking up on white Ciff then. Oh yes, that’s probably the only cheapo product that removes the splashes.

    I guess when we finally meet, I’ll be thinking “Oh, the mummy has freckles too. And what lovely beauty spots her wee kiddies have.” 😀 xx

    • funnylass October 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

      Ta sharon…and esp for the household cleaning tip. Heh. Please believe me…IQ / intelligence is nothing to do with being ‘classroom academic/ able to retain dull info and pass the exams.’!! I speak as one who COULD do that-but am surrounded by scarily – way cleverer than I – sorts who bombed at school.
      Pen wise….you are as old as me if you remember the squidgy ink pens!
      Something else that the joy of pens has brought for us-the kids now understand all the ‘ink missile’ jokes in our stockpile of ancient Beano annuals…

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