I care about a lot of things that other people don’t. Grammar and spelling, for example. Yes, I’m one of those really irritating people that mooches about the internet, correcting spelling on social networking sites when all a person is trying to do is talk about how ‘omg that burger was literally the most incredable thing they could of ever eaten’ and how cute their cat is.
All of that aside, there is one thing that I care about more than any sane person probably should. That thing is handwriting.
In an increasingly digital world, handwriting is becoming less and less of an issue. We spend more time tapping away on keyboards than we ever spend holding a pen. The art of letter writing is changing, with emailing being the preferred method of communication. In a society where time is money, who wants to wait around for the postman? Even greetings cards can be signed and sent from our computer desks. I’m all for change, generally. I’m also a classic culprit of internet based impatience, but I believe certain things ought to be preserved, despite being used less frequently.
I can direct you to article after article debating the need for handwriting lessons in school, each one putting forward a case for why cursive should or shouldn’t be taught to the next generation. Many view it as a waste of time for children who are more likely to pick up an iPad than a notepad, while others like me think that it is no less important now than it was before the invention of the computer.
I have nice handwriting. I know this because I’m told on an almost daily basis (I handwrite the carpet invoices at Congdon’s), and I’m always struck by the bizarre tone of envy in the voices of those telling me. Nice handwriting is not some elusive talent bestowed upon me by a fairy godmother at birth, it’s something that I was taught at school and that I have painstakingly gone on to perfect as much as I can. Anyone who can hold a pen can write nicely, it just takes patience and a good grip on a biro; it’s not rocket science.
Cursive was taught at my primary school as standard and, for a small group of us that were doing particularly well, calligraphy was an optional extra. I already had a basic understanding of this art form, having watched my Mum teach herself for some years. I still remember our dining table being covered in beautifully handwritten wedding invitations that she had made for a friend. I was transfixed by the elegant curves of the letters and the ornate flourishes, and it wasn’t long before I was squirreling her books away and attempting it myself. When the chance to further this ability cropped up at school, I took it. We worked with ink pots and blotting paper and I was soon in handwriting heaven. To the beginners of calligraphy out there or to those looking to find a gift for a calligrapher, this guide will help you choose a calligraphy pen. I nice pen makes quite the difference.
Throughout my teenage years, I experimented with handwriting in much the same way that other people would experiment with their hair or their clothes. My writing was a way of expressing my identity, and I veered from round, bubble letters with hearts dotting my ‘i’s to a strange, backward slanting hand that required me to hold the pen in a very unnatural feeling way. Eventually though, I settled back on an old favourite – calligraphy. Those lessons are the core that make up what my handwriting is today.
I’m anally fixated on things like spacing and letter height, and I get very frustrated when I’m making notes quickly and ‘let myself down’. We have a photograph above our fireplace that we had taken for our wedding. It has a wide, white mount around it on which our wedding guests were encouraged to write messages of congratulations. I love it more than words could ever say; the messages are heartfelt and loving, and it will always remind me of the happiest day of my life and of all of the people that helped to make it so special. On the other hand, it’s opposite where I sit on my sofa, and a lot of the handwriting on it is less than what I would consider perfect. That’s largely due to the fact that many people were writing after a long day of celebrating, and there are more than a few wobbly letters (just as there were a few wobbly relatives that day). The handwriting on that picture bothers me in much the same way that a plate of mouldy food would bother someone with OCD. I realise that makes me sound incredibly cold-hearted, but it’s just neurosis, honest.
Handwriting needs to be taught, especially in an age where we’re less inclined to pick up a pen. It’s a simple art form that nearly all of us can use, yet it’s one that we’re forgetting how to access. This basic skill should be practised and refined in the same way that we practise drawing bowls of fruit as children. And the thing is, everyone loves really nice handwriting.
I, for one, don’t want to live in a world ruled by those who write in block capitals…
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Happy Easter folks