Mightier than the sword…

By which I clearly do not mean that anything is more conditional than a potential ploughshare, which foolishness leads me nicely into today’s opening apology.  I’m not entirely sure where this post will take us (but let’s all hope it doesn’t involve a ‘journey’!) but as its genesis was in a pun of such appalling weakness that it is virtually homeopathic, I fear it may be an uncomfortable experience.  So, I shall not be offended if those of weaker moral fibre (or greater common sense) turn back now and spare themselves the horrors that may be about to unfold.

As the final Thursday to form part of November’s boxset ebbed away, I returned home having (perhaps) lived not wisely but too well.  I happened to glance at Twitter before interring myself beneath my continental quilt and chanced upon a link to Things by Dan, shared by someone I follow, and clicked upon’t.  Who, at this temporal remove, can explain the causes that led to me going further? Was ethanol implicated?  Was it a desire to drag myself away from the angler fish like lure of the glowing screen?  A retro urge to return to the world of pen and ink in the hope of discovering my inner calligrapher or artist?  We can never be certain, but I have a feeling that the causal root of my decision comes down to one of two possibilities:

  • either the slightly ninja vibe of a blade nib pen: it might not prove mightier than a sword but could, in extremis, double as one; or
  • the irresistible draw of nearly 6 inches of some rather fine wood, especially when shod in brass, and not forgetting its glorious feel in the hand.

Whatever the proximal cause and its potential to suggest filth, I went ahead and ordered myself a blade nib fountain pen and yesterday the postman delivered it into my waiting hands (saving him the climb to my first floor eyrie).  What a gorgeous thing it is!

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Ready to write a suitably cutting response…

I have not yet been able to do anything other than admire its visual and tactile appeal (I have, so far, resisted the urge to run my tongue along it) as my house lacks any suitable ink.  Given the date, I am reluctant to brave the city centre and its desperate hordes to seek supplies.  This seems to leave me with but two real options:

My first would be to attempt to startle a squid and capture its response in some suitable vessel.  However, my knowledge of marine biology is – I fear – inadequate to (a) find a squid and (b) approach it unawares so that I may deliver it a mild shock, allowing me to fill my pen while it makes good its escape.

My other option would be to seek out the discarded home of an oak gall wasp and grind it with the iron (II) sulphate (a staple in every household, I’m sure) to make my own ink.  My biological knowledge is sufficient to this task but it has been many years since I last saw an oak apple.  They used to be everywhere when I was a lad, but despite living a stone’s throw from several oak trees there is not a sign of the work of Andricus kollari.  Admittedly, it is probably the wrong time of year though I would note that this has not stopped a couple of local azaleas from bursting into full bloom this week: a decision they may come to regret…

I find myself wishing that my new acquisition had made a pact with the forces of darkness for the grant of life eternal.  Had it entered into such a devilish pact, it would be able to feed on the ink of other (probably bustier) pens to remain eternally youthful and capable of writing, using its nib as a single vampiric fang.  I suppose the downside would be the need to move to a drafty castle, though this would have the benefit of a creepy butler and fully-featured organ with which to accompany the children of the night (not to mention the extra storage space).  Given that this putative vampire would be undead stationery, I suppose this castle would be sited in the Appalachian mountains, rather than the Carpathians. “Why?“, I don’t hear you ask for fear of me delivering the answer and, if I’m honest, the whole purpose of this post.  Well, in the situation that the undead would more normally be seen residing on the shelves of W H Smiths than stacking them, their natural home would not be Transylvania but Pennsylvania!  (Or even, Pencil-vania!)

I thank you!  Please consider this my Christmas gift to you, the GofaDM readership: you are very welcome…

 

Big Ink

I believe that conspiracy theories are popular, or certainly have a cult following rather greater (if possibly stranger) than GofaDM, and so I thought I’d try and launch one.

As we all know, printer ink (as opposed to printer’s ink) is, gram-for-gram, one of the most valuable (or, at least, expensive) items on Earth.  Woe betide any developing country which discovers massive deposits of printer ink beneath its soil as it will find an American-led coalition delivering democracy through their bomb bay doors before it can say the local equivalent of ‘Jack Robinson’.  I do find myself wondering whether intense aerial bombardment has ever delivered a fully-functioning, representative democracy to its beneficiary?  I believe the military will talk about bombing a country ‘back to the stone-age’ but have never heard any equivalent about it bringing the fruits of the Enlightenment.  Perhaps democracy isn’t a human invention at all, could it have arrived on a comet during the Late Heavy Bombardment of Earth some 4 billion years back?  Did the Attic Greeks merely stumble across some which had been exposed by coastal erosion?  Still, this is not the conspiracy theory I’m trying to start: though it could make for an interesting addition to the whole panspermia idea.

In my daily life, I often find myself booking tickets on-line: either ‘to ride’ or to enjoy some sort of cultural event.  Often these can be collected from the venue (or station), but sometimes one is required to ‘print at home’ – and so use up precious milligrams of ink.  In theory, a ticket could be pretty basic: a few details and a bar code, or similar, should be enough.  However, many issuers attempt to fill an entire A4 sheet (or several) with ink and use as many colours as possible: usually printing out adverts for miscellaneous tat and unwanted services.  The worst offenders used to be the soi-disant budget airlines, but they have recently had their crown usurped by another.

Last week brought the first occasion I’ve ever had to use an organisation called Ticketmaster.  Using their website, one is immediately transported back to the 1990s: such is its retro feel in terms of slow response times, busy screens of small print and critical navigation hidden from view.  Given that supply of tickets would seem to be their primary (perhaps only business) and there are a number of potential competitors, their internet ineptness seems oddly shocking with more than a seventh of the 21st century behind us.  Their survival might be partially explained by the rather high booking fees they charge and the fact that they even charge for the option to print your tickets yourself (a first, in my reasonably wide experience).  Not only do they make you pay up-front to print your own tickets, but they then place an extraordinary quantity of useless ink on the printed ticket.  I am forced to assume that they (along with the budget airlines) are receiving kickbacks from Big Ink.  In return for wasting so much of our valuable ink, these companies are paid a fee by an evil consortium of ink cartridge suppliers and so bolster their business models.  It is time that we, the public, start the fight back!  I feel that with a little image-editing software I should be able to blank out all the spurious printing, while retaining those elements which are key to the ticket’s functioning – or will I then find myself falling into the commercial clutches of Adobe?