I live in Dublin, Ireland. Sometimes. Most times I live in my head, quite unaware of my surroundings – if you know what I mean… If you succeed in tracking Sean Walsh, please let me know, ok? I've been searching for him for years…
Sifting through the bits and pieces of a long-ago past I came across a letter from my Dad, recognised immediately his unmistakable hand and noted the date, 30/9/1951.
So long ago! My first year as a student – Arts and Philosophy – at Galway University. I had barely settled in when Dad wrote me; a few paragraphs in and I knew why I had treasured this letter down the years…
“Well, John, I was in Tempests during the week and I got you a very good pen, the very latest model, “Parker 51” and I want you to take great care of it and not lose it. It will help you in your studies and examinations as you should be able to write well with it.
“I am sending it on in a separate package and if you can get Quink ink it is the best for it. Let me know if you would like a bottle of Parker’s special ink for this pen and I will send it to you. I hope you will like it…
May God bless and protect you.
Your loving father.”
Then and there a flash from the past: as a young lad going into the front room of my home in Dundalk – ‘Dunany,’ Seatown Place – and watching my Dad writing at the dining room table – with the inevitable Parker.
I took a deep breath and asked him, Daddy, will you show me how to write like you?..
I can still remember him smiling, drawing over a chair for me to sit up beside him. Lesson One. A beginning.
To this day I’m still quietly proud of my penmanship…
And here’s a thing! When I shared this wee gem with my eldest daughter, Siobhan Flanagan, and Benny, her husband – they live in The Hague, NL, with their three children – he immediately responded to my email:
“A while back I was in a pen shop here in The Hague with Siobhán. We were just having a browse, not intending to buy a pen. Siobhán tried a few but none took her fancy, except for the pen in the possession of the seller, a beautiful Parker pen. Siobhán asked if she could take a closer look and scribbled a few words on a piece of paper, immediately falling in love with it. We asked if he had a similar pen for sale but unfortunately he did not.
He explained that this model of Parker pen was probably the best pen Parker ever made, you would only get one second hand today and it was very difficult to source one.
I asked what type of Parker it was and he answered, a Parker 51.”