Sunday, March 1, 2015


Osmiroid nibs
When I was at school, which was a long time ago, and not for very long. Chapter 4 of my book describes that short episode in my life, and my Peeling The Onion Facebook page illustrates it. As I was saying, when I was at school, one of the items on our school list was an Osmiroid fountain pen, with an italic nib. These pens came in an assortment of colors, so although everyone had exactly the same pen, they were not all identical. The nibs were, or they were supposed to be.

Because this was in the 1950s and cartridges had not yet been invented for fountain pens, we all had to carry bottles of ink in our school bags in order to refill the pen. Most of us had ink stains in the bottom of our school bags, and across many of our books, from leaking bottles of ink. And we always had ink stains on our hands - not just from the messy job of filling the pens, but because they frequently leaked while in use.

This is how we were expected to write, and most did.

This is my butcher boy hand writing
We had handwriting classes, and we were all expected to write in exactly the same italic script. I guess I just had a different drum beat in my head, because while all the other girls were practicing writing in exactly the same way, I didn't see the point.

I really don't think that I was a rebel, because I wasn't trying to stand out, nor was I trying to be difficult, I just didn't see the point in changing my writing, and writing the same as everyone else, so I didn't. At one point I remember a very frustrated Scottish nun look at my exercise book with absolute disdain, she told me with disgust that I wrote like a butcher boy. Apparently part of what disgusted her about my handwriting was the presence of loops.

To be honest, I really didn't care. I hated school, and it wasn't long before I figured out the system and avoided going altogether.

Naturally I regretted it later and (read my book) I did manage to do some catch up, but looking back, I think I probably ended up with a better education that most of my peers from that era, even if it took me a lot longer and my handwriting is not as good.

I still wonder from time to time, how Mother George knew what a butcher boy's writing looked like, and did she believe they too were all forced to write in exactly the same way?

I found this blog about Osmiroid Pens, apparently they have quite a cult following, and not just nuns.

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