Handwriting and Nostalgia

Yesterday I was buying some art supplies and somehow got into a conversation with the store assistant (or possible manager) about the lost art of handwriting and calligraphy. I was saying that my handwriting is now pretty illegible, and has been so for at least a couple of decades, even though I stillI handwrite on a daily basis as I keep a journal.  Every so often I make a concerted effort to write more neatly and legibly, but my natural inclination results in something very different,  My kids were laughing at my handwriting the other day as they tried to decipher some old teaching notes that had fallen out of a book. But there is another factor, not just regarding legibility and uniform neatness, but a beauty of penmanship that I simply do not possess.

The guy working in the shop told me that he’d so loved his grandmother’s handwritten letters that he’d been tattooed using her handwriting as a template and inspiration. I asked whether he’d show me and he obliged; he pulled down the neck of his T shirt so you can make out the words family, love and honour:

This encounter inspired me to think about the value I have placed on fragments of old handwriting. After my father died in 2004 and we sold the house and got rid of most of his belongings. Yet I held onto this old recycled pickle jar in which he used to store his black peppercorns. You can just about make out his writing, now faded, at the top of the label, capitalising the word PEPPER. I still use the jar –  it has survived my moving homes and decluttering. I do find myself from time to time checking that the handwriting is still there:

As a hormonal 12 year old with precocious taste in rock music, here is an extract from my old 1969 diary, written in neat cursive and multicoloured felt-tips, I love the PEACE signing off!

I tend to carry a journal with me wherever I go. This photo was taken in the summer of 2013 at an outdoor dance event. I can’t remember who took the picture but think it was one of my fellow dancers – if anyone remembers please let me know so I can credit you!


My journals tend to have the function of processing rather than the intent of keeping a record. Every so often I am propelled to restate a moment expressed on paper as  photographic evidence. This is possibly because I sometimes dispose of the journals. In this case I wanted to freeze and capture the fact I have experienced going bonkers with desire! Extract from a 2014 journal:


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