Ed and Father
Well the object is my father’s fountain pen. He died . . . 1956 when I was seventeen years old. I just started in my last year of school, secondary school. I’d just done my A-levels for the first time, and he actually bought me a fountain pen as a reward for passing my A-levels in 1956. But this fountain pen is his own pen. It’s a Watermans. It’s probably, I mean he’s been dead now fifty, fifty seven years is it? Fifty seven years. It’s a long time anyhow. Fifty seven years or so and he’d had it for some time then, so I suspect it’s between sixty-seventy years old. Probably nearer seventy rather than sixty. So it is a good age and Waterman fountain pens, I have checked up on them in the past, they are a very reputable firm. I think they’re an American firm. And why he chose a Waterman’s pen when he bought it, I don’t really know. Any pens I’ve bought since, and I’ve bought one or two since, I’ve always bought Waterman’s. And that’s the reason.
My father was a very ordered man. He was an expert photographer. His own handwriting style was very, very exact. Very small but very, very . . . struggling for the correct word here . . . it was very neat. And the pen I think is a very small neat pen. It is looking, showing it’s age a bit now because eh, the clip on the front is a little bit tarnished. But it reminds me of him because whenever I see things that he’s written, it’s always
the same. Even from a very young age. I’ve got a prayer book that belonged to him which has a date 1926 or 27 in, and he’s written his name in the front, and his handwriting style when he was in his early 20s is exactly the same as it was before he died in his early 50s. And I think that the pen just reminds me of the fact that he was a very ordered man. The photography work he did was part of that aspect of his character, because you can’t do something like that and be haphazard about it. He knew exactly what he was doing.
And this pen, I think, came into my procession after my mother died. I think it was part of the stuff that my mother had, stuff that belonged to my father. So she died in 1984, so I think that’s when it actually came into my possession. But I have used it quite a bit since and the other fountain pen that’s in my possession too belongs to, er belonged to my father in law. That’s a Parker. I’m not sure what the . . . there used to be a famous Parker pen, I can’t remember what it was. Parker 51 or something like that, so it’s possibly one of those, I don’t know. And I’ve used that as well. But this is still my favourite because it is you know, the one that belonged to my Dad. And it is part of my life.
I don’t use a fountain pen very often now since I’ve retired. I usually get the fountain pen out if I’m writing, you know Christmas card sort of things. I like to do things properly. I remember when Alice got married, I wrote all the invitations. I wrote them all out by hand and I used the fountain pen to do that. So you know, that was nice that I was able to do that. And it is sort of a link with how I grew up and the sort of standards that were around in education, if you like. And even in my home life as well. But you did things properly. When you want something doing properly, use a fountain pen. You don’t use a ball point pen. A fountain pen has that sort of stamp of authority. Doing things right!
In effect it is one of the few things I’ve got that belonged to my father.
I do use it yeah, but not very often now. Think when I was teaching I was probably . . . unique at the school where I taught. I used a fountain pen most of the time, or I went through spells where I used a fountain pen all the time. But where others were quite happy to use ball point pens and nothing else, I did use fountain pens. And in fact with this one I actually got some red ink and I used this for marking. And I found it was easier than the other one to use for marking because I don’t know, there was something about it’s style, or whatever. I don’t know, the nib bit . . . it was very handy. So I did actually use that as my marking pen for a while, and it did have red ink in.
He did quite a bit of conjuring as a hobby, and Christmas time he was very, very popular with you know the local groups who were having Christmas doos or Christmas parties for children. He would be called upon to provide entertainment and I actually had a semi-starring role with him because there was one particular trick where he could set up a pack of cards in a certain order, provided that pack of cards was never shuffled, so long as it was only broken. You know, you break it and then put one half on top of the other and you were maintaining the same sequence of cards and you could always tell what the top card was by looking at the bottom of the pack. And this particular trick that he devised was where, in my absence (I would have to go out of the room), he would go to three people and these three people would choose three cards, but they
were three cards that were in sequence from the pack. The next thing he would do when these three cards came out would be to split the pack, turn it upside down and put it on the table. So there was a face card at the bottom of the pack, which meant when I came back into the room, I only had to look at the face card to know what the three cards were, cos they followed on in sequence. And I’ll not go into great detail about the sequence but all the suits were in the sequence: hearts, clubs, diamonds, spades. And I think the cards, they went from . . . eh, let me get it right . . . ace, 2 10, 8, 6, 4, 9, 7, 5, 3, jack, queen, king, then back to ace again, and so on.
So I would come back into the room and look at the card so I knew what the next three cards were. And I would you know go through this whole scratching my head, "Let me think now . . . Ah, yes . . . such a thing." Let’s say for instance I would say, "The 9 of diamonds!" "Oh 9 of diamonds!", applause, applause, wonderful. "And what was the second card?" So, after the 9 of diamonds I would know following 9 it would be a 7, following diamonds it would be spades. "Ah, 7 of spades!" And the 7 of spades would be held up. And my father then very cleverly would take the 7 of spades and say, "Now can you all see that can you? 7 of spades." And he would finish up standing in front of the person who had the last card. Then this is where I would come in and say, "Now then, let me think. Err, the person who’s got this third card . . . " I would go through, you know drag it out a little bit and all, and describe this person very accurately. And say that person has the 9 diamonds, 7 spades, let me see, 5 of hearts. And it’s you know a lady with a whatever, or
a gentleman you know with a blue tie on, or you know with a red handkerchief in his top. And so . . . applause, applause. You know, amazement. How’s he done that? So that’s a particular happy memory.