I went to the London Stationery Show this week. It was always likely to be the kind of event that melts my brain a bit so I brought Beloved with me alongside enthusiasm and a complete lack of understanding of what was going on.
These events always hammer home, somehow, that what I am experiencing is probably not what everyone is experiencing. What is everybody else experiencing? Who knows? For me the colours and sounds become a tight shifting tangle. It is difficult to keep hold of the patterns in the scene in front of me for long enough to find my way around a stall let alone the whole thing. I cannot predict where anybody will step or how they will behave. Mixes of voices melt together almost into white noise. I lip read as well as I can but this comes with another peril: sales people see me looking at them and try their damndest to make eye contact. I’m not keen on eye contact at the best of times but trying to keep my eyes on their lips in order to read them while they duck and dodge about trying to meet my eyes adds another dimension. I don’t want to talk to them but I don’t seem to be able to get away either. I know that what Beloved is experiencing is different at least on some level because he chats with sales people and he steers me through crowds such that I keep moving and nobody touches me. Without him I suspect I would just be terrified and rooted to the spot.
By the time we got out of there and went to get lunch I was feeling a bit low. I had a job interview later in the day and I was feeling very very different and weird compared with everyone else. I was also trying to preserve brain power because that interview was sitting there defiantly between me and the sensory deprivation den at home.
So anyway that’s the more personal sombre bit. Now that you know how utterly confusing the situation was I’ll take the piss out of it a bit. Beloved and I met up with Scribble and Rob and wandered round as a weird little group for a while. We would stop and squee over interesting items.
And then we got to the Kaweco stall. Where you could make your own Kaweco Sport using the machines they use in Germany. (To be clear here I did not mould the plastic like a total pro or anything. You take the finished bits and pull levers that go PLUNK and join everything together and it is very satisfying.) I will reproduce the Kaweco stall conversation because it is fairly typical of those we had around fountain pens. I paraphrase here because I could not hope to reproduce the boundless wit and charm of my excellent companions.
Scribble: Hello I’m a blogger and I would like to talk to you now about fountain pens for the next half an hour.
Rob: oh God he’s doing the thing again. He always does this.
Beloved: I have no idea what’s going on. I’m just going to keep you out of the way of all the people you haven’t noticed, OK?
Kaweco lady: hello would you like to make a pen today?
Me: Heeeeeeeeee yes I would yes yes I would like that yessssss*
Kaweco lady: Do you… Do you have a shop?
Me: I… Buy stationery. For… My organisation. Can I make a pen now?
I plunked the machines. It was magnificent. Kaweco lady asked me several times if I had a shop. I did not manage to fool her in any way that I had a shop. And then I took my free Sport and she gave me some Kaweco stickers which were incredibly shiny and I enjoyed looking at them. And then I made Beloved make a pen as well because I wanted a second one.
The irony here is that I don’t actually like Kawecos very much. I’ve never seen one that made my heart sing. And you must understand that I LOVE teeny tiny pens. I have a Conklin minigraph on the chain around my neck at all times. My red Pilot E95S is definitely in my top five pens. I love my Moonman and my Ohto Tasche. If anyone should like the Sport it’s me. But I just don’t. I don’t find it aesthetically pleasing. I tend not to like pens without clips, although the cap shape does function as a roll stop. It’s comfortable to hold but I don’t like the nib. It’s too dry and not smooth enough. So there you have it. Not for me. But it gets enough love elsewhere.
* I want to make it clear that here I am making a reference to James Joyce in my reply and am by no means simply losing my shit with excitement over making a pen with plunky machines.
And now more Cole Porter, because there is never enough.