Column: Back to school memories

Remembering the days of pen and ink
Remembering the days of pen and ink

Long ago, in the dim and distant seventies, I recall how we used to study.

We had just gone beyond the quill pen when I was at school, but I do recall the little ink wells perched in wooden desks that had been used not long before with the fountain pen. There was a bit of the fountain pen when I started too and some pink sheets of blotting paper were despatched to all the messy members of the class.

Sometimes, a neatly written piece of work would be tarnished by that nasty ink splat, but we didn’t mind so much. The teachers did though!

Back then, studying meant a trip to the school or town library for books was the only way.

So, you’d scour the shelves for the relevant stuff and spend ages trying to find the right ones. By the time I started university, this could be quite a pile that was being escorted from the place of the many books to your student dwelling. Then, I recall sitting with bits of photocopied pages and a myriad tomes, researching for this essay or that. I make it sound a chore but to be honest, I loved it.

You could sit cosy in your room, with a steaming cup of tea, and take your time in your quest. As we didn’t have the computers to fight over, or the time constraints of said wondrous machines, it could be a relaxing affair, provided you didn’t leave it to the last minute.

Then, of course you’d offer your best via a handwritten essay to your lecturer who could hopefully read it.

Yes, it was the day of the hand writer when your script could either confuddle or please the teacher. Not only this, but you might be the recipient of some handwritten feedback that you simply couldn’t read. It all depended on how well a person could hand write.

You could, of course, get the old typewriter out and kerching your way through the thing, with blotting paper between the sheets to make copies. Then you'd make some ghastly mistake and it was hard to rectify.

Back then, the computer was saved for special people who worked with the big beasts in strange buildings somewhere. I recall my friend’s mother did just that and yards of A4 ticker tape seemed to spew forth from the giant thing.

Not sure if today is better, as nothing is worse than forgetting to save on the computer!