Home > Memories > A Bicycle, Pen And Thomas Hardy

A Bicycle, Pen And Thomas Hardy

My parents gave me a lovely new bike at Christmas in 1957 and it gave me freedom, variety and occasional calamity. I recall the freedom to go to ‘that bridge’ and look down upon the Flying Scotsman. Paul Clough will be more familiar with that bridge and certainly will know how to spell its name –  Relley Bridge perhaps – and confirm whether or not I am relating a false memory about the Flying Scotsman flashing underneath it.

I recall a minor accident on the road outside Neil Davies’ home in Bracken Court during 1958. It might have been me that failed to negotiate a parked vehicle. Or was in Neil? Or was it Allan Burn? Which leads me on to some creative writing.

I have just recently completed a  creative writing course at the local University and I enjoyed it a great deal. One of our tasks was to write a short piece about an inanimate object and I choose a pen. Hopefully the result is coming up shortly [cut and paste on the new package is still a minor mystery]. Before coming to that piece of work can I say that I recall ink pens at New Brancepeth school in 1952. Being left handed it was never easy for me to prevent the black blob and smudge. Can any other reader identify with that problem? Now then, the exciting bit. Can I cut and paste on this new package?

The Pen

Here I am, a wooden pen with a bright brain, lying in my glass prison. There’s a computer set back to my left and a pencil to my right. Let’s face it – they look as bored as I feel in this badly decorated box room.

Here comes the master. I could write so much that is meaningful but he never listens to me. He trots out the same old lists: five pounds of potatoes, cheesecake, tea….

 When he suffers writers’ block he chews and squeezes me. His son is just as guilty. One day one, or both of them, might damage my brain. One of my neighbours, the pencil, has a rubber top so never gets chewed; mind you he does get squeezed – I have seen it happen so often.

When I am taken out I frequently cannot see a thing – when stuck in a top pocket or thrown to the bottom of his brown bag –has he not got one in another colour?

Oh look! He’s compiling one of his ‘to do lists’. Much of it never gets done; it’s more like a ‘not to do list’ if you ask me. He has just written ‘vacuum the box room’ but I hope that he puts that off because that vacuum cleaner is far too noisy.

Life is not all bad. I enjoy the internet even if my master’s choice is limited and predictable: Richard Dawkins, Derby County, Robbie Williams, A C Grayling and Johann Hari. On he goes to the newspapers: The Independent, The Guardian, Times and Telegraph – always in that order. I hope he goes back to that article about James Dyson – the man with a more efficient vacuum cleaner.

My master sometimes uses my ink to doodle and deliberate upon the internet’s complexities but more often he can be found to be forcibly tapping my stomach against his bony thumb in a most inhuman and painful way. I can do little to rectify his behaviour but I welcome any suggestions from whatever source.

I like writing thank you letters; in doing so I imagine I am giving lots of pleasure. His spelling is not too bad but he’s a bit mechanical – on the other hand his wife can’t spell but has the sensitivity he lacks.

In my quieter moments I wonder what the purpose of my life is. Is it just to write? What will happen when my ink runs out? Is there a place where pens go for a nice time when they are inkless? Am I refillable?

Oh! Out of his pocket has come a sleek and slender silvery pen. I am not familiar with her – I wonder whether she is going to try and replace me or join me.    

Thanks for reading that. Now for Thomas Hardy. Back at college decades ago I was lambasted by the lecturer for daring to criticise  that highly regarded writer Thomas Hardy.At the time my immature but decisive brain signalled yawns when it was time to do Hardy. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago a young, clear eyed, pleasant looking young graduate declared that my writing reminded her of Thomas Hardy! It related to a longer piece of mine and although it was flattering and wrong to link me with a greatly accomplished writer it has nevertheless given me some confidence to persevere; I will try to ‘ hack through the wood’ and go onto better things. I have twigged that creative writing will improve my observational skills and in the long run enrich my vocabulary.

WB

Categories: Memories
  1. noodles
    June 26, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    Wilf,
    Love Thomas Hardy stories. Great writer. Wrote about rural England as it was being overtaken by the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Where else could you find a man like Jude teaching himself Ancient Greek.

    Brian Mc.

  2. noodles
    June 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Wilf,
    Enjoyed the story of your pen.

    Briam Mc.

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