Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Letter Writing with a Dark Red Waterman

"This letter-writing of his has its ritual aspects. He takes up his pen, a dark red Waterman on Sunday afternoons, the first Sunday of every even-numbered month - February, April, June, and so on. An observer might note that the line of his bent back and shoulders possesses a fetal curl. His tall-windowed study is quiet. At his elbow is a cup of weak coffee, rapidly cooling. His mind is aerated by acts of private embarrassment and distressing nightmare, but for the  moment he brushes all this aside. He is a man writing a letter, performing an act of obligation. The date goes neatly into the right hand corner of the page, and as a sort of uncle-type joke, his lips tightening, he always put "AD", in parentheses, after it.

Then he takes a breath and writes: My dear Daisy. The "my" troubles him, but it would draw attention to itself should he alter it now. He then proceeds with his dull and detailed paragraphs, this dullness and detail successfully blocking the yearning he feels. He completes one page and begins another, plodding away, and feeling always reassured by his plodding, which he takes to be a sign of restraint. The loneliness latent in such objects as his Waterman or his china saucer must be kept from view. But his face bending over the paper is ripe for heresy. He longs to cover the page with kisses and to sign the letter: your loving Barker. Yours forever. Yours only.

What he actually puts down is a plain: yours sincerely, Barker Flett."

Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries, Fourth Estate: London 2009 (first published 1993).

Ink used: J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary edition
Pen used: Lamy Safari

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