W is for Wooden Pens

Faber Castell AmbitionI have become a great fan of wooden pens; that sort of fountain pen or similar stationery that take advantage of the tactile as well as the usable. It doesn’t make them astonishingly expensive. I mean, these aren’t disposable biro either. In the end, you have something that combines function with feeling.

I think if you want to have an experience, you spend a little more on it. People spend £50 a head on a fantastic meal – and I come out of that with change and a pen that I can use for years to come. You come out of a restaurant with an opinion, a full belly and the prospect of having forgotten all about by the end of the week. I happen to have a Faber-Castell Ambition and a smoked oak Ondoro, instead of the fading memory of a meal that offered fine dining and small portions.

The sensation works on a fairly subliminal level. I don’t linger over it or anything. I just know that I’m holding something pleasant.

My slender black wood Ambition, for example, feels really nice. Two-thirds black wood, one-thirds chromed metal. Cold and warmth both. The wood seems to enhance something about the warmth coming off my hand while the metal contrasts sharply against both.

The Ondoro provides a different experience. Heavier, chunkier. A hexagonal barrel adds an altogether different experience in itself, quite separate from the slender barrel of the Ambition. The Ondoro has a reassuring heft that, nevertheless, feels good in the hand.

I’m not certain I have all the correct words in place to describe why this matters or what I really get out of the experience. Any more than someone could break down the experience of eating an expensive meal, smoking a rare cigar or mulling over a vintage brandy. We all have fickle grasps on our sensations – and for me, the warmth of a wood barrel on a pen offers strange comfort.


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