Friday, 26 August 2016

Ink Monitor

   Seeing the photo that Adele posted reminded me of being an ink monitor...surely a precarious task that 'Health and Safety ' would quite frown upon today. Then there were the pens with nibs that scratched on the paper...and the paper with printed parallel lines in which one's writing had to fit. The exercise books that were taken home to be covered , uniquely in the lounge wallpaper or brown paper. Each day one wrote the date in the margin,,what were margins for ? I expect for teachers' corrections and comments ? The use of fountain pens was obligatory and all exam work had to be done with one- so the use of cartridge pens was so beneficial as it saved you from having to take a bottle of ink into the room ( risking the accidental breaking or leaking of the bottle all over items in your briefcase ).
   Letter writing was an art form. Learning the correct layout and format..addressing people, offering a final salutation correctly. Addressing the envelope with the proper spacing. All these things and more.
   As a holiday job, whilst a student, I worked at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, and at one time I took over from the secretary of the engineer's department whilst she was on holiday. My first typing task was to right a job reference for a departing exchange worker. Now my typing skills were ( still are ) minimal  , having been 'taught' at the admissions department. I rather think I took most of the morning. By the end of two weeks I'd really got into the swing of things and in fact I was offered a job ! So I expect all that time spent learning the correct procedures held me in good stead.
   When I was a student I was in charge of 'Stationery'..I had a locked cupboard from which I sold items of necessities to my fellow students .Reams  of foolscap paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, rubbers and other assorted sundries.
   Then the ability to write as much as possible in an airmail letter. The writing minute, the sentiments deep felt. Writing on the pages-- along the edges--never wasting a space to write loving words to a friend or relative so far away.
  When I was teaching, at the beginning of the academic year, we teachers could have a limited supply of stationery items that the school secretary closely monitored.
   Brings me neatly back to monitoring. The joy of being chosen as ink monitor for a week...then you could be milk monitor....then in charge of the pencil sharpener that was screwed to the teacher's desk ( overuse led to punishment we mostly wanted to stand at the front and make that grinding noise), Jotter monitor, text book monitor, dinner table monitor...the list goes on- making us responsible for trivial tasks that, nevertheless, made us feel important.
  I am much afraid that I don't have a poem for today's blog , but I do hope I've provided some nostalgic memories for some of us !!
   Picture is the result of ' Googling '   INK MONITOR .......

Thanks for reading.....Kath



Christo said...

Thanks for this, Kath.
Two of the first tasks I was given upon joining the First Form (called SHELL) at Baines Grammar School were to stand in line with an earthenware jug by the Stock Room counter to collect an inky blue liquid to replenish the inkwell upon each desk in our Form Room twice a week. Infrequently I was also expected to collect school pens with horridly scratchy nibs.
For those of us who actually loved writing, the purchase of a good quality fountain pen and Quink Ink was permitted, but woe betide any boy fearless enough to bring in one of the relatively "new-fangled" Biro pens - there were numerous confiscations and the award of detentions to miscreants.
As with various other scents from childhood - carbolic soap; the sweaty odour of the football changing rooms; the coke boiler in Winter; Indoor Sunshine at Whitegate Drive Health Centre; sulphur dioxide pong that flavoured the Chemistry Lab; formaldehyde in the Biology Lab - all of us will have personal repositories.
The second responsibility was acting as Assistant on Monday morning's Form Period first thing, to collect along with the Form Master Dinner Money & Savings' Club Money.
Whether this National Savings initiative with strong ties between schools and the parents of pupils survives in 2016 I doubt very much, but it had been a routine small collection (sixpence a week from memory) from age seven to eleven, rising to a shilling a week or more if you preferred for my first two years at "Big School"- when my National Savings book was handed over at 21 (the age of alleged adulthood back in 1967) there was sufficient money to pay the deposit on my first car.
So Ink and Savings and established and unwavering routine.
Thanks for reminding me, Kath.