Alignment of the Stars

by Scribble Monboddo

Earlier this week, Saturn and Jupiter lined up in a cosmic display of shininess, apparently. Of course, here in grey, soggy Blighty we couldn't see a bloomin' thing, so if the great conjunction really was an omen of something or other we can quite fairly claim not to have noticed. But by golly has it been a rum old year anyway, astrological or otherwise. This little island has created some peculiar problems of its own which we don't need to ruminate further on here, but pretty much all of us have felt some of the pain of the pandemic, and all those days locked-down at home have been a testing time to identify what really matters and what works in staying sane and keeping creative.

One of the survival tactics which worked for many of us was socialising online, and I'm no exception there. The highlight for me was running a couple of uber-geeky pub-quiz events for the Fountain Pens UK group, who kindly tolerated many a diversion into the realms of serious stationery trivia. If you weren't there... well that may have been wise actually, but I had fun at least!

Of course taking a break from screen time and using some old-school thinking tech is always going to be an approach I'll recommend, and with more than a few tasty notebooks from Nero's Notes to hand you might think I'm spoilt for choice. It's a fair charge, and I cannot tell a lie! There are two many crackers to pick an outright winner, but one I keep coming back to is the Neo Deco A5 notebook by Clairefontaine; I love their paper, and they seem to be able to do wrong when it comes to the presentation too. I have dedicated it to the work I do with one particular organisation and it's a pleasant surprise every time I open it up to be reminded that I'm going to enjoy making notes that day, whatever happens in the meeting. Unaccountably, Nero still has some in stock, too, so you're in luck!

The other moving stationery experience (geddit?) this year has been collaborating with the up-and-coming pen maker John Garnham. When I say collaborating, what I really mean is that I issue a series of eccentric, unrealistic and unreasonable suggestions and John patiently turns into them astonishingly accomplished new pens. We can all see who's doing the work here, and it's not yours truly. But the way he listens to penthusiasts and finds ways to turn out things which everyone wants but no-one seems to be making (like a #8-nibbed fountain pen which doesn't cost as much as a small car, for instance) is a real inspiration. Here's to more of that magic - and, hopefully, similar conversations with the fellow pen-turner of emanant genius, Dennis Humm - next year.

Usual family events have had to sit on the back-burner this year for many of us, me included, but I hope you'll enjoy a moment with a funky little notepad and an outrageous writing instrument which you could never have got away with back when we had to go to those places we used to call offices. There aren't too many silver linings to this cloud, so grab every one you can, keep scribbling, and we can compare, err, notes in 2021; it's going to be a better year than this one, really it is!