Confessions of a stationery nerd

A little piece of history died today, as the last ever typewriter to be made in the UK rolled off the production line at Brother in Wrexham.

Think of that – the last typewriter! It’s qwerty-fiably sad.

{That’s a joke for the keyboard nerds}Filofax page stationery

{Just me then}

Despite being a techy nerd I am also a good old fashioned stationery nerd as well. I run my life via
my iPhone and Filofax, keep a well-stocked pen pot and come over quite peculiar when confronted with a full display of Moleskine notebooks.

I write all my appointments in the Filofax on my desk. Occasionally a child will come along and add a smiley face if they approve of the upcoming event. Admittedly I have never caught which child it is that might be doing this, and it is always possible that it’s Dennis the cat that’s adding all those smiley faces.

I have a second Filofax that I decant each year’s diary to when I put a fresh one into my main one. So if you want to know where I was on March 7th 2008 I am ON THAT (actually it was the junior school film night).

When I am coaching somebody on the phone I always take notes by hand and encourage them to do the same. I also encourage coaching clients to start keeping a journal.

There is something very special about the physical process of writing things down with a pen in your hand straight on to paper. It moves your mind and produces unique insights. Keyboards will never totally replace that. Typewriters may be becoming extinct but pens are here forever.

So you can understand why I had to retire to a dark room and breathe into a paper bag when asked to become an official stationery tester.

Cross Pens have asked me to join their review panel. Essentially what this will involve is them sending me some of their latest range and me telling them whether I think they’re nice pens or not. They haven’t asked me to blog about it, which of course is psychological catnip to bloggers and sure to send us straight to the computer.

So to kick things off I was sent the limited edition Year of the Snake pen, which is so posh that it comes with its own plinth. Plinth, as Miranda Hart has noted, is the King of Words, so this must indeed be the King of Pens.

I was also sent a Forever Pearl rollerball, which is really gorgeously designed piece of writing kit. I can see this making a lovely christening or wedding gift.cross pens


I must admit it has been kind of strange to have in my custody two pens whose value is more than I would spend on food in a month. The interesting part has been the extent to which they have an effect on what I’m writing – you wouldn’t use either of these for your shopping list.

The one time I bought a really posh pen like this before it was for my father’s 60th birthday. When he died a few years later the pen came back to me. You really feel a connection with someone when you use a pen they’ve held and written with. I’ve told my kids they can have these when I join The Cloud, or if my fingers drop off through overuse.

One interesting side effect has been on my kids – their handwriting becomes a million times better when they’re using the Cross pens. So if you want to help someone improve their handwriting, the answer seems to be to give them a decent pen to inspire them to make an effort.

So they’re very much not disposible pens. They’ll live on my desk, with the Filofax. If I don’t lose them, they’ll all be around forever, which is more than you can say for an iPhone.

  • Thanks very much for your comment Jen. What I find interesting about pens and other stationery is how it very quickly goes beyond the physical object and can evoke quite an emotional response.

    We don’t write as much by hand today as we used to, communication via computer has increased so much. But you still need to be able to write well, that will never stop. I love your dad’s attitude and the thought of everyone in the family having their own pen, quite right too.

  • I NEED to be on that panel. I too am a stationery nerd and write with a red cross pen that MadDad bought me a long time ago. I was brought up by a dad that always used a cross fountain pen and had perfect penmanship and he believed that we should all have our own pen that we used all the time. He hated throwaway pens. MadDad has two pens in a leather case in his suit pocket that he uses all the time (she writes at work a lot) and again never uses disposables. I think that you get used to a well balanced pen

  • Wow, those are some pens you were given! I own two cross pens currently. A standard cross century ballpoint and a Cross Beverly fountain pen. I love both of them. Cross makes some very fine fountain pens, I’m often at a loss as to why they are not regarded with the same status as other pen makers.

    The Cross Century is a super functional ball-point and it is slim enough to fit into any filofax, a real plus in my book.

  • Tikijane

    I just discovered your blog via Philofaxy!! I love it.

    I love old typewriters. I’m convinced I could write a best seller if only I had a 1930s Olivetti. I do have a beautiful Parker Duofold that I love and I’m just getting into using Filofaxes. I’m off for a month recuperating from back surgery last Monday, so ill have a little time to catch up on things!

  • Thanks so much for all your comments. Great to meet some fellow stationery fiends!

    @Helen – I have just tried it and it doesn’t fit all the way. The end of the pen is tapered so that fits in the loop, but then the middle of the barrel is too thick for the loop. So about a third of the pen will fit but you still have a few milimetres of the pen sticking up over the top of the Filofax. Cross also do matching Forever Pearl journals and this is what I have asked Santa for:

  • Helen Conway

    Does that gorgeous pearl pen fit into the loop on your filofax? If so I think Santa might be asked for one!

  • Can’t wait to read your post Jo!

  • jo

    Ooh only just spotted this – I’m writing mine up tonight… they’re such amazing pens, and like you say, I’m struggling to get my head around writing with a pen which costs that much!! But it’s goooood…

  • Diablo3

    This is just some random cooment that i wanted to write to see if i could blast the the hell out of this site later. If it sticks il will come back around and stuff the hell out of it with some links. Please wait for my return and i will take advantage of this opening.

  • What sad news! I LOVE typewriters, and, in fact, have a 1980s Canon electronic typewriter I really enjoy using. Long live the typewriter!