Thursday, 27 June 2013


I had to look out some of my termly Reports from primary school, to confirm something I’ve always accepted as true: my handwriting is terrible.  The subject was labelled ‘Writing’, as distinct from ‘English Composition’, at which I seem to have done quite well (although ‘marred by untidiness’).  Here are some of the comments:

·         Poor – rather unsteady
·         Untidy – must try to slope all his letters the same way.
·         Uneven
·         Too much ink
·         Too large and irregular
·         Very poor and untidy
·         Probably tries too hard!

And a rare one:

·         Improving

My signature on official documents – cheques, the backs of new credit cards, contracts and suchlike – is similarly, let’s say, unsteady and uneven.  I blame this on a brief period during my banking career when I had to sign hundreds of ‘mail payment orders’ a day, at speed.  There’s a theory that people’s signatures evolve towards either a straight line or a circle; well, mine ended up as the contents of my green bin when the holly has just been pruned.  Complaints were received from banks around the world.

These actions and thoughts have been triggered by the arrival of my Book book, about which I wrote a few posts ago.  As a reminder, the idea is to record stuff about books – any stuff, there isn’t a plan – in this nice black-hard-covered A4 lined notebook, as a kind of archive.  My Book of Books.  Past, present, future; expectations, disappointments, love affairs.  I still like the idea, very much, but there’s one thing I hadn’t taken into account.  The blank first page is staring unblinkingly at me right now.  “If I’m to be what you think I am,” it’s saying, “you’re going to have to write considered words in me.  Preferably with a proper fountain pen, in properly sloped copperplate.”

I’m considering my considered reply.  At the moment it’s along the lines of “flip off, page one, I’ll scribble whatever I choose, with whatever writing utensil comes to hand.”  In fact, I’m just going to make some notes about ‘Lionel Asbo’, in a commensurate fashion.

At the same time, I can’t help thinking that the Book has a point.



  1. ... you really "write"?


    Besides the nonsense I find it very interesting that the Deutsche Industrie Norm is seemingly everywhere. I think it dates back to WWI, when there were efforts and needs to standardise.

  2. My handwriting changes, according to my mood. Thank goodness for word processing.

  3. My handwriting is also poor. Best illustrated by the following conversation that took place when I was going through my NVQ assessors course.

    Instructor: I will need all your evidence to be submitted in your own handwriting.
    Me: Righto.

    A few days later, after the first documents had been submitted.

    Instructor: You can do the rest on the PC if you like.
    Me: Righto

  4. Methinks you should start on page two and hope page one doesn't notice.

  5. Mago, I do "write". Whether I| can "read" what I "write" is another question. Also whether I can "understand" what I "read."
    Dunno where the standards come in, but I do remember DIN - some kind of hi-fi connector. Also 'Bog Standard' was alleged to be 'British Or German', though I can't verify that.

    Martin, yeah, mine too. Curiously, the more I drink the better it seems to get.

    Sir B: I assume you passed? Holding eye contact sometimes works in these situations I've found.

    AQ - probably too much strategy there. They almost certainly won't recognise each other anyway, let alone conspire. Martin Amis and Thomas Pynchon don't talk much, do they? Do they?

  6. My school reports were much as yours. I was firmly convinced that my untidy handwriting was the result of my thoughts being so fast that my hand couldn't keep up. I scorned careful, neat writing. I was an odd child.

  7. A4, the paper format, is a DINorm, half of A3, what is half of A2 etc.; there are Bs and Cs for envelopes and such.

  8. Haha! Can you imagine trying to give that sort of report today? There would be squadrons of social workers marching past, eyes right, on their way to take the poor child to rehab!

  9. oh bugger the hand writing, content is more important than presentation. And don't forget to illustrate it, then if you can't read it you can look at the pictures.

    Is this helpful?

  10. Z, you should see some of the handwriting on those reports! And there was never a suggestion that mine was as illegible as theirs.
    Mago, of course! I must have been having an even slower than usual evening.
    CQ - what, they do handwriting in schools nowadays??
    Zig, great idea, marred by the drawback that I can't draw. But I feel a post coming on ...