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Fountain Pens & Letters

Milton Keynes Citizen, November 29, 2012

Gracious. What a pickle some people get into with this new fangled ‘social networking.’

And I’ve even read of one prolific – and allegedly irritating – ‘tweeter’ whose got into a spot of bother posting inappropriate remarks regarding an individual in a recent news story.

Oh dear, what a shame, how sad. And, please, may we be spared any further scantily clad draped in a bed sheet Parliamentary photo shoots, to fund the possible libel costs.

Hopefully this is now just the wake-up call that inane wannabee ‘celebs’ need, to curb baseless yapping which wouldn’t be carried by most other forms of medium.

As for ‘emails,’ well they also seem to have often been the downfall of those involved in dodgy dealings.

Personally I haven’t the foggiest idea how to send an email and have absolutely no wish to find out, for there’s nought wrong with a stamp and a hand written letter. On which subject I’ve rediscovered, thanks to a most reasonably priced purchase from a newly opened local collectables ‘emporium,’ the joy of writing with a fountain pen, the use of which was mandatory during my school days.

Like a musical instrument such pens express the individuality of the user, with a fluent response to the idiosyncrasies of personal style, while as for letters, at least they can’t be inadvertently sent to all and sundry by the press of a wrong button.

In fact the main danger is having the envelope steamed open but here advice from the past can help, since in a publication of 100 years ago comes the helpful tip, ‘A letter which has been sealed with the white of an egg cannot be opened by the steam of boiling water as the heat only adds to its firmness.’

On a related subject, also from the same era reads, ‘The practice of licking gummed envelope flaps is very injurious to the health, and yet there are thousands of people who lick these and postage stamps.

It will surprise you no doubt to learn that the gum used on postage stamps and envelopes is obtained from any old refuse, such as bones and hooves of dead animals, which may have been, in all probability, diseased.

These essential articles of business life are manufactured from all manner of rags, and, after being fashioned anew, are handled by many conditions of people.

Fortunately, the practice of stamp licking has proved fatal in few instances, but that does not necessarily minimise the danger.

Thorough as the sterilising process is in the manufacture of these articles, there is no doubt that many germs are not exterminated. A good plan is to moisten the finger, and rub this along the gummed portion. Children especially seem to be liable to the sucking of pencils, pens, etc.

This should be as much discouraged as the licking of gum.’ A minor downside to the use of a fountain pen could be the occasional ink blot but here again yesterday’s wisdom comes to the rescue; ‘To remove ink stains from washing materials, squeeze a little tomato juice on the stain, and leave for a few minutes before washing.

The stain will disappear easily.’ Women’s work of course – only joking – and on the subject of one’s other half comes this sanguine observation from the past. ‘Women are sadly at fault when they expect their lovers to be constantly expressing their devotion.

It is a mistake, because a man’s reticence on the subject of his affection is really due, not to insensibility, but to the fact that he is actually more sentimental than women.

He is apt to reason that when once he has told a woman he loves her she will accept the statement, and he resents being expected to repeat it constantly. It is offensive to his sense of delicacy that he should be obliged to translate his love into what he feels to be crude and inadequate words.

As a consequence, many a man in love will say or write anything rather than the words a woman most desires to hear – “I love you.” Obviously penned by an astute observer of the human condition.

And one whom if from modern times might perhaps have concluded that, to minimise the infliction of self harm, potential users of ‘social networking’ should first be screened as to their psychiatric fitness to ‘tweet’.