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Saturday, January 16, 2010

By my own hand

I had to write a thank-you just now. I'm very picky about pens and paper. The first has to have the right traction on the other, particularly since I'm increasingly convinced that all these years of keyboards and texting have robbed me of the ability to write with my hand, as I could when I was twelve. When I sit down with pen and paper I feel the strength drain from my hand when I get near the end of a line. If I grip tighter my writing becomes more cramped. If I try to loosen up I can't hold a straight line. Then I find myself trying to write familiar words without spelling them out a letter at a time. The natural, practised flow that used to form familiar words such as my own name has gone. This is exacerbated by the fact that the ink in rollerballs and biros either flows too freely or has to be coaxed out. I can no longer write in a relaxed way. To help get over the problem I dug out my fountain pen, replaced the cartridge and wrote the note with that. It's amazing how much more satisfying it makes the whole letter, both to write and probably to read. And this in the same week that I wrote a 600-word film review on my iPhone on the Tube journey home from the preview.