When I was at school everything I produced was written by hand, and when I was at home, every story and poem I wrote was also written by hand, in pen, and I must have been able to read what I wrote, my teachers must have been able to too! Doing A-levels, our history teacher dictated notes to us, and I filled so many files with reams and reams of her thoughts… I actually think, lovely though she was, she wasn’t a very good teacher, though I didn’t realise at the time.. We had to write out quotes from the books she recommended and in the end my essays were just a lot of quotations strung together because ‘we were too ignorant to have opinions of our own’… needless to say, I didn’t do very well.. I got through, but not brilliantly.

On to Manchester Polytechnic, in the first year of its existence, and I did then have brilliant tutors and lecturers, but it took a long to unpick the way of writing my old history teacher had forced upon us… Note taking was essential, but I didn’t actually know how properly to do it, as I’d been conditioned to write verbatim what the teacher/tutor/lecturer said… I think this was about the time my writing began to unravel – my handwriting that is, it was about the time my actual writing began to ravel – if ravel is a word! In our final year as well as exams we had a dissertation, goodness knows how many words, lots! It had to be typed and a friend’s mum did it for a price, so I had to write it legibly so she could read it.

For my twenty-first birthday my aunty gave me a type-writer – I was liberated from scrawl, freed from scribble! This may have been the next thing which unravelled my writing, because I no longer did much if any by hand, except as notes and jottings… except for writing on the blackboard in chalk when I became a teacher. My blackboard writing, printing, is actually quite good, and quite clear, writing big is obviously great!

My handwriting is now quite shocking except when I concentrate and do ‘blackboard writing; I once signed my name and the person thought I’d written Eric… that was a bit confusing for a while…

We went to an art show recently, with notes, and I wrote some things down, jotted some things about the inspirational work I saw – the work on display was so varied and suggested so many things to write about, my mind was racing, and so was my hand in the margins of the notes.

The notes about Iain Biggs RWA and his exhibits, ‘Severn Waterscapes’, says “The work is conceived as a single diptych combining two unframed mixed media pieces which incorporate digital photographs and original ‘cancelled’ nautical charts as part of a free hanging work…’ Beside it I wrote ‘great (squiggle) bo de cologne ‘missed nadir’ story itui – owt narrative‘… I think, think it might mean ‘great fun to do collage ‘mixed media’ story (indecipherable) narrative’.

Hmm… thank goodness for keyboards!

Here is a link to Iain Biggs:

http://www.iainbiggs.co.uk/

…and here is a link to my writing… published by Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

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