Atoms to Astronauts to A5 to Apocrypha

by Scribble Monboddo

Back in the olden days, readers of a certain vintage will recall when the school textbook was both sacred and reviled; the construction was, frankly, pretty horrid, but one was nevertheless only allowed to open it when there was a serious marked exercise to complete, with a proper fountain pen too. For notes, working-out and miscreant doodling there was sometimes a 'rough book', with paper so ghastly that only a pencil could survive its absorbent tendencies. But either way, the experience was terribly disappointing. Have you ever looked back at your school scribblings and thought "hey, that's neat"? No? Then you see the problem. But now a teacher's taken matters into his own hands - and the result is brilliant.

Now, regular readers will expect a wee diversion here, so why not? Once upon a time, before there were even schools to supply bad exercise books to, the Brythonic tongue was spoken throughout this island. On some of the other, smaller islands there were curiosities like Gaelic and Manx, but on this island it looks like variants of Brythonic Celtic were in use across even the area now known as Scotland. There are rather big hints in the place names to this day, such as a town starting with Aber (which, as is the case for Aberystwyth and Abertawe, indicates a river mouth) and a water course called the Dee (derived, as are rivers called Eye and Wye, from a term for water; think d'eau and you're not far off). So, the residents may not know it, but Aberdeen is, by today's logic, thoroughly Welsh.

The Dee itself winds past many a Monboddo ancestral stomping ground, as it happens, but that's not our destination on this occasion, because Aberdeen has more than one river joining the North Sea. Just across town, quietly flows the Don - err, no, not that one. But a Don nonetheless. On its banks is a high school where Damian Hardacre teaches, and he couldn't see why STEM students should find it quite so tough to get hold of cool stationery. So he did something about it. 

He did quite a lot about it, actually, designing a range of fascinating covers and finding manufacturers who could put notebooks together on said linguistically bewildered island. The result is a bit of a triumph, comprising both softback and hardback books with paper which rather likes a fountain pen, actually. As you can see here there's a teensiest bit of feathering with a very very wet nib, but in normal conditions it should be a robust performer.

Better still, even the softback version has a sewn binding so there will be no nasty rusting staples to contend with. There are ruled versions for us sneaky arts grads who want to get in on the deal, as well as dot-grid versions which are ideal for mapping data, sketching microscopy or even engaging in a spot of Euclidian experimentation. The prices aren't bad either, at £17 for the generously filled softback and £24 for the sturdy hardback. You probably want one now - and here they are

The Atoms to Astronauts website is, by the way, a source of STEM inspiration in other ways too, a particular favourite around these parts being the page about Isaac Newton's discoveries during a past pandemic. Have a meander!