Christmas Calligraphy with Angela Reed

We have been collaborating with professional Calligrapher Angela Reed over the past few months to help customers learn more about the traditional handwriting art of Calligraphy. The latest guest post from Angela brings us a Christmas theme to help get us in the festive spirit.

Christmas is a great time to get your calligraphy pens out. Whether it’s writing a card, adding a name to a gift tag or addressing an envelope, there are plenty of opportunities to get fancy with your handwriting.


You can also get pretty creative with your lettering and make your own Christmas stationery, turn your envelopes into works of art and make hand-written gifts for your loved ones.

Christmas is probably one of the few times of the year that people still make the effort to write – and calligraphy can add that extra special touch. It has always been one of my busiest times of the year as a calligrapher.


This is my third Christmas in business and my calligraphy skills have been called upon for a range of projects over the festive season.

I have been asked to create bespoke gifts, such as hand-written poems, written messages in cards and personalise gift tags and baubles. I’ve even been involved in a Christmas proposal!


I’ve made and swapped cards with fellow calligraphers and this year I have been involved in a ‘Secret Santa’ lettering project with a group of calligraphers on Instagram.

I had a lot of fun creating a card for the calligrapher I was matched with and adding a few gifts to the envelope, which I also took great delight in decorating. It’s that personal touch that people appreciate and brings such joy at this time of year.


You can use calligraphy pens to design your own simple cards – like these snowman and Christmas tree ones – or add festive greetings to store-bought cards and tags. Or you could use broad-edged pens to give a bit of texture to your ordinary handwriting.

Calligraphy pens also make great gifts for the creative people in your life. Check out the range from The Pen Shop in my previous blog here.


If you’d like to get to grips with calligraphy in time for your Christmas projects, I can help!

I’m holding a Christmas calligraphy workshop at Dappers Tea Rooms in North Shields on Wednesday, December 14, from 10.30am to 1.30pm. The cost is £20 per person, including materials and refreshments. A £5 non-refundable deposit will secure your place. E-mail to book.

We have been collaborating very closely with Angela over the past few months, you may recall her Question and Answer session where we took the opportunity to learn more about Angela and her passion for Calligraphy. In another guest post, Angela explored the different Calligraphy Pens and Sets we offer. In one blog Angela looked at How to get started in Calligraphy and the latest featured Popular Calligraphy Styles.

If you want to learn more about Angela and the services she can provide then head over to her website at Creative Calligraphy and socially you can connect with Angela on Twitter or Facebook. If you are inspired by Angela’s story and you too want to get started with Calligraphy then we have a curated selection of pens to help you.

Popular Calligraphy Styles

We have been collaborating with professional Calligrapher Angela Reed over the past few months to help customers learn more about the traditional handwriting art of Calligraphy. The latest guest post from Angela talks us through the different Calligraphy styles.

There are many forms of calligraphy out there and it can be daunting for beginners. But don’t feel you have to master everything! I tend to dabble in more traditional styles, with Copperplate being my favourite.

Calligraphy Style: Foundational

Calligraphy Style: Foundational

The first script I introduce people to when they come along to my workshops is foundational hand, which is quite rounded and widely spaced. Developed at the beginning of the 20th century by Edward Johnston, it is based on the circle and vertical straight line. I usually pair its lower case alphabet with Roman capitals, a script based on the lettering from the stone inscriptions of Ancient Rome.

Calligraphy Style: Roman Capitals

Calligraphy Style: Roman Capitals

Uncial is also a good hand for beginners to get to grips with. Like the foundational, it has roundness to it and round shapes are easier to form. The script itself is traditionally a formal book hand used from the 4th to 8th centuries, but there are many variations.

Calligraphy Style: Uncial

Calligraphy Style: Uncial

Italic was developed during the Renaissance in Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, hence its name, and was used for papal documents. It is flowing and rhythmical, with springing arches, a forward slope, compressed forms and relatively steep pen angle. Italic capitals are narrower than Roman capitals, based on an oval rather than a circle, and are often elegantly flourished.

Calligraphy Style: Italic

Calligraphy Style: Italic

Copperplate, or English round hand, was prevalent in the 19th century. It is written with a pointed nib, rather than a broad-edged one, with the thickness of the stroke determined by the pressure applied when writing. It is a sound basis for anyone wanting to go on to explore modern calligraphy, which is less rigid than more traditional styles.

Calligraphy Style: Copperplate

Calligraphy Style: Copperplate

The best thing to do is try a few styles and see which one suits you. Eventually, you’ll end up developing your own variation of a style, just like handwriting!

We have been collaborating very closely with Angela over the past few months, you may recall her Question and Answer session where we took the opportunity to learn more about Angela and her passion for Calligraphy. In another guest post, Angela explored the different Calligraphy Pens and Sets we offer. In her last blog Angela looked at How to get started in Calligraphy.

If you want to learn more about Angela and the services she can provide then head over to her website at Creative Calligraphy and socially you can connect with Angela on Twitter or Facebook. If you are inspired by Angela’s story and you too want to get started with Calligraphy then we have a curated selection of pens to help you.

How to Get Started in Calligraphy

The latest guest post from professional Calligrapher Angela Reed offers helpful tips on how to get started in Calligraphy. This is a question that often comes up from customers so we asked Angela to provide some specialist guidance on the subject.

Calligraphy is a fairly inexpensive hobby to get into. All you really need is a pen and a piece of paper to get you started!

The type of pen you need depends on the type of calligraphy you want to start learning. Most calligraphers start with the foundational, or Roman round hand, script. It’s certainly what I introduce people to first in my workshops. A broad edged pen is what you would need for that and many other traditional calligraphy scripts. You can then decide if you would prefer to use a cartridge pen, or dip pen and ink.


The Lamy Joy from The Pen Shop is a lovely, quality pen and comes in a range of nib widths. I would suggest the 1.5mm to get you started. You can also buy the gift set featuring all three nibs, which would be a sound investment.

The Coles Calligraphy range would be for you if you are comfortable with pen and ink. A variety of nibs can be fitted to a straight or oblique holder. Some will need a reservoir to hold ink, while others, such as pointed nibs, do not require one.

Pointed nibs are used for copperplate and modern calligraphy styles, where pressure, rather than pen angle, creates the thick and thin strokes.

Loose sheets of good quality cartridge paper are good for practising on, but you may want to use a notebook of some kind so you can keep track of your progress. Just make sure the paper is not too thin, as the ink will bleed.


A pencil, ruler and eraser are also essential parts of a calligrapher’s kit, for marking out guidelines. Lettering height is dictated by the style of calligraphy and width of the nib you are using.

There are many calligraphy books available and you may be able to find some in your local library. The best seller on Amazon at the time of writing this was The Calligrapher’s Bible: 100 Complete Alphabets and How to Draw Them, by David Harris. I have just invested in a copy of Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe after it was recommended to me by another calligrapher.

There are also countless tutorials and downloadable worksheets available online. Scribblers is a great starting point.

But I think the best thing you can do is find a workshop near you for personalised tuition and peer mentoring.

The Calligraphy Lettering and Arts Society has an interactive map of tutors and groups at


We have been collaborating very closely with Angela over the past few months, you may recall her Question and Answer session where we took the opportunity to learn more about Angela and her passion for Calligraphy. In another guest post, Angela explored the different Calligraphy Pens and Sets we offer. In her next blog Angela will be looking at different Calligraphy styles – keep an eye on our blog for the latest update.

If you want to learn more about Angela and the services she can provide then head over to her website at Creative Calligraphy and socially you can connect with Angela on Twitter or Facebook. If you are inspired by Angela’s story and you too want to get started with Calligraphy then we have a curated selection of pens to help you.

Essentials: Back to School with The Pen Shop

Essentials: Back to School with The Pen Shop

Going back to school is an exciting time for many kids. After a long summers break, kids are eager to get back to see their friends, tell everyone about the holidays and the best bit…get their hands on some new kit.

The seemingly simple task presents some challenges of making sure you get a high quality item that’ll see your child through the year while withstanding everyday use.

At The Pen Shop, we care about creating a lasting memory of the joy of writing, so we’ve pulled together our top 5 back to school essentials that’ll have your little one prepped for the year ahead and excited to learn!

  1. The Fountain Pen

Just like the grown-ups! Dex by Kingsley has created a versatile, durable and colourful fountain pen that makes the perfect writing accessory for those developing their handwriting skills. With a super soft touch, stable grip and long-lasting iridium nib you can’t go wrong.

Dex by Kingsley Smooth Soft Fountain Pen

  1. The Pencil

No pencil case is complete without a mechanical pencil. The timeless design, perfectly formed grip for learning hands. Lamy is one of the most popular brands amongst young writers and the reasons are endless. With a built in eraser, a multitude of colours and a spring-metal clip to ensure it stays put!

Lamy Safari Pencils

  1. Coloured Pens & Pencils

Now what fun would be going back to school if you couldn’t doodle in endless colours! That’s why we think the Faber-Castell Playing and Learning range is the ideal addition to the budding artist’s or writer’s new school kit. Designed with the superior Faber-Castell quality these felt-tips and coloured pencils are definitely a must have!

Faber-Castell Playing and Learning 12 Erasable Colour Pencils

  1. The Pen Pouch

Of course, to carry around brand new treasured pens and pencils a pouch that will protect them and keep the safe is essential! Kingsley is a master craftsman of fantastic quality pen pouches that will ensure pens and pencils always look good as new. Our particular favourite is this elegant leather twin pouch.

Kingsley Pen Pouch Twin PU Black

  1. Notepads

Now that you’ve got all the writing pieces your child needs, of course they now need somewhere to jot down their next brilliant idea! Boasting bright colours, ruled lines and two sizes the Kingsley notebook range are the ultimate addition to a finished stationery kit for the first day at school!

Kingsley Lined Notebook

From us to you – we hope the first day back to school is truly magical!

For more back to school deals visit The Pen Shop or get social with us on Facebook or Twitter.

#PenShopArt2015 Art Competition prize bundles announced

We’re happy to announce the contents of our three prize bundles for our National Stationery Week art competition.

We’re asking you to express the theme of “Talking is for now, writing is forever” via the medium of pen and paper. We’ve already had some excellent early entries with more coming in every day. Make sure you follow our twitter feed (@thepenshop) for ideas and inspiration and most importantly make sure you get your entry in before 3rd May 2015!

The prize bundles are as follows:

Under 11’s

under 11s Numbered

1              Kingsley A5 Notepad – Yellow
2              Kingsley A6 Notepad – Yellow
3              Kingsley Slip Case – Yellow
4              Faber Castell Felt tips
5              Lamy Safari Red Fountain Pen
6              Dex Compact Smooth Fountain Pen
7              Dex Compact Smooth Inkliner
8              Ted Baker Touchscreen Pen Lemon
9              Ted Baker Mini Notebook Opulent Bloom


11-16s Numbered

1             Kingsley A5 Notepad – Red
2              Kingsley A6 Notepad – Red
3              Kingsley Slip Case – Red
4              Faber-Castell Design Pocket Twist Ball Pen Orange
5              Cross Century Chrome Ballpen
6              Dex Compact Clear Fountain Pen
7              Ted Baker Brogue Wallet with Pen
8              Ted Baker Lemon Yellow Brogue Notebook

Over 16’s

over 16s Numbered

1              Kingsley A5 Notepad – Blue
2              Kingsley A6 Notepad – Blue
3              Kingsley Slip Case – Blue
4              Faber-Castell Design Pocket Twist Ball Pen Silver
5              Sheaffer 300 Black Chrome Trim Ballpen and Pencil Set
6              Ted Baker Travel Document Holder Coral
7              Ted Baker Brown Leather Mens Pen

That’s over £360 worth of prizes to be won! Special thanks to Ted Baker for supplying some beautiful stationery products and accessories for the prize bundles.

Remember that to enter, all you have to do is photograph or scan your art and email it to with your name, age and contact details. Alternatively you can tweet your submission with the hashtag #PenShopArt2015 or hand a copy in to your local branch of The Pen Shop. Importantly, the competition is completely free to enter and we’re not putting a limit on how many different designs you can enter.

National Stationery Week Competition: Winners Age 13-18 Category

National Stationery Week is a celebration of the written word and all things stationery. We want to get more people putting pen to paper and writing by hand more often, and spelling stationery correctly with an ‘e’!

The truth is, technology has merely distracted us from the joy and importance of writing, it hasn’t replaced it. There is still something special about stationery and receiving a handwritten letter or card.

To celebrate National Stationery Week, The Pen Shop invited people of all ages to indulge their creative streak by writing a short story. We are pleased to announce the winner and runners up of the age 13 – 18 category.

Winner of the Age 13 – 18 Category

Karazita Monday

Age 14

There was a sudden knock at the door, as Mother and I both looked at one another, “Jake” we said in gleeful unison. My face beamed as the thought of seeing my brother once again became a near reality. He’d been away for a year at war and we were expecting him back today. I’d missed him so much I didn’t feel whole anymore. I felt hope well up inside me, and the feelings of worry and fear seemed to slowly ebb away as I rose from my seat. For the past year I’d thought of him every day; we all had. We thought about him, worried about him, wondered about him, and most of all we did not speak of what might happen to him. We did our best to push the feelings to the back of our mind and pretend that everything was always going to be okay, that he would be fine. Now all of that weight and all those burdens were finally lifted. Now I knew everything was going to be okay.

I got up from the couch, leaving my Mother in her wheel chair to greet Jake as he walked in. As I proceeded towards the door, a sharp gust of wind whipped around the house and caused one of the windows to slam shut. The sudden noise made me jump and left the air feeling ominous. I steadied myself, and with a deep breath and a shaky hand I opened the door…

Upon my doorstep, two army officers stood; a man and a woman. In that moment, I knew what they were going to say, I knew exactly what they were here for. All of a sudden, life seemed to play out in slow motion. I felt like an outsider looking in, watching a sad movie in my sitting room, this didn’t feel real.

“Miss Monday?” the man asked.


“Miss Monday, can we come in, we need to talk to you.” He said. I held the door open for them, and they came in and introduced themselves as Mark and Sally. Mark then went through to the sitting room as Sally went into the kitchen to put the kettle on. I went and sat by my mother.

“I am so sorry to have to tell you both that Jake was shot on enemy soil last Friday. He was such a courageous soldier, He was a hero, and he died to save his fellow comrades…” Mark continued to explain about the details and about how heroic my brother was, but I couldn’t concentrate to listen. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Sally went and hugged my mother as she cried uncontrollably into her hands.

“Is there anything we can do for you right now?” Sally added, giving me a sympathetic smile.

“No, that’s all right. I think we just need to be alone now.” I replied.

“Of course.” She said. I showed them to the door and said goodbye.

I still couldn’t believe it. ‘Jake was shot. Jake was shot. Jake was shot.’ The words echoed through my mind as I closed the door and fell to the ground in a dizzy haze. After a few moments passed my mind went blank and then it hit me. The reality of what just happened shot through my heart just as a real bullet would have; with unimaginable pain and extraordinary speed. So many emotions welled up inside me, grief, sorrow, heartbreak, pain, misery, agony and so much anger, I screamed out in a vain attempt to release it. I stood up knowing that I had to show strength and courage. I walked back into the sitting room and found her in the exact same position, with her head in her hands crying. I leaned down and hugged her as I began sobbing in unmanageable pain. It was in that moment that I knew I would never be the same.


A year on and I am still as broken as I was that day. They say that time can heal anything, but it can’t. It won’t. We have accepted what happened, but we are not healed. I can still feel the bullet in my heart and the hole in all of our lives. For the past year I’ve thought of him every day; we all have. We’ve thought about him, wondered about him, and most of all, we’ve missed him.

Runner Up Entry:

Kate Wilson

The Mysterious School-

There was a sudden knock at the door,Morag awoke at around 3am,she looked at the clock in her small little room and gasped it read 9am.I’ve slept in she moaned,but of course Morag hadn’t slept in at all her Aunt had merely set the clock ahead 6 hours to ‘scare’ Morag.

Morag groaned then proceeded to get up whilst repeatedly yelling ‘oh no,I slept in’

When Morag had finally stirred and forced herself to walk downstairs her Aunt yelled at her ‘HOW DARE YOU !,you know you should never sleep in.’

You see Morag lived at her Aunts with her annoying cousin,Morag’s parent’s had died when she was little when she’d asked how her Aunt simply said ‘nobody knows,you just got dumped here by an old man,be thankful you weren’t sent to an orphanage !’ it was made rather plain that Morag’s Aunt didn’t particularly like Morag at all. Morag’s Aunt had become rather annoyed at Morag now and had been for about a month,you see Morag could do strange things whenever she got upset with her cousin. Just last week her cousin who happened to be called mala suerte,which unluckily for her meant bad luck.Had been badmouthing Morag’s parent’s when Morag went red and yelled ‘go jump in a river’ .Suprisingly mala suerte went and jumped in the river down the road.The follwing day her Aunt annoyed at what Morag had done to mala suerte & got a knife and sliced the words’I must behave’in small letters into her arm.During breakfast a strange looking animal flew in threw the window carryig an envelope in it’s beak.’What’s that?’, screeched Morag’s Aunt.’I..I…I don’t know’, stuttered Morag.

The animal was now perched on top of the window sill,it’s it’s an owl exclaimed Morag’s Aunt.’But what is it doing here?&i n daylight too’ said Morag.’Are you trying to tell me you do not know why this foul creature is here?’ Asked Morag’s Aunt ‘I don’t know,I swear it.’ ‘you come here now girl’ and she grabbed Morag’s arm and snapped it like a twig ‘crack’ went Morag’s arm.Morag squealed in pain.’ shut it girl’, yelled Morag’s Aunt.

Morag whimpered then sank into the kitchen corner, her Aunt rounded on her, ‘YOU WILL TELL ME WHY THAT OWL IS HERE OR YOU WILL SUFFER !!!’ Screamed Morag’s Aunt.

‘Do your worst,I can’t tell you and even if I could I shouldn’t breathe a word to you’said Morag in disgust.

Morag’s Aunt grabbed a rolling pin off the kitchen counter and began to hit Morag with the long wooden stick.Morag simpered every time the stick hit her but Morag didn’t move.Morag;s Aunt raised the stick to hit Morag again when the door fell down.’You dare hit that girl one more time and you’ll regret it’Said a booming voice,Morag’s Aunt dropped the rolling pin in suprise and it came down hard and clattered Morag hard on her head,she screamed then she fainted.’ What did you do that for? She’s innocent’ ,yelled the voice again. ‘She’s not innocent ‘said Morag’s Aunt.

‘Morag,Morag.Come here I’ll help you’It was Mala Suerte.Morag awoke to see 2 figures hovering over her,’is she dead?’,Said Morag’s Aunt.’Morag tried to get up but she couldn’t move,she tried to lift up her arm a look of pain on her face but nothing happened.Morag burst into tears saying again and again ‘I can’t move,I can’t move”What did you do to her?’,said the voice again’OUT OF THIS HOUSE NOW !’,declared Morag’s Aunt.’I’ll be taking Morag now,you clearly don’t like the poor girl.’,said the voice.And the man cradled Morag in his arms & said ‘I’ll take care of you and walked off clutching Morag in his arms.

‘Come here little lass’,said the man.’My name is Ricroar and I’m here on orders of proffesor Dragonsbane.Do you know who you are?Morag nodded her head then said ‘owwww!’ ‘we best get you to professor Dragonsbane he can help’ and they set off.

They arrived at a strange old house not long after, Morag still rather upset as she could still not move.

Proffesor Dragonsbane fixed Morag seemingly with a stick of Wood.

Then put her in the nearest bed to rest.

When Morag awoke she glared for a long time at the man standing above him ‘Hello there Morag, I’m proffesor Dragonsbane’ ,said the kind man,Morag attempted to sit up but was quickly stopped by Proffesor Dragosbane saying ‘No, you sit there!,Morag I have something to tell you.Your a witch Morag’. ‘I’m not!’,said Morag.

‘You are’,said both the men at once.It took a while for Morag to register the news but eventually it sunk in. Your to go to a new school as well it’s called ‘L’école de sorcellerie et de magie’.

‘what will my Aunt say’ ‘nought to do with your Aunt anymore’ said Ricroar

‘You’ll start school next week, so we need to get you a few robes,a wand and a few other things . The following day Arthur and Morag went shopping in London for her wand. The wand Morag picked was made of dragon heart string her robes were bright blue and went very well with her deep brown eyes. Once Morag had purchased everything of which she needed for school she was returned to her Aunts house. Morag awoke extremely early rather happy to be away from her aunt at last,she went to the strain station at about 7am. And she was off on her way to France…

National Stationery Week Competition: Winners Age 18+ Category

National Stationery Week is a celebration of the written word and all things stationery. We want to get more people putting pen to paper and writing by hand more often, and spelling stationery correctly with an ‘e’!

The truth is, technology has merely distracted us from the joy and importance of writing, it hasn’t replaced it. There is still something special about stationery and receiving a handwritten letter or card.

To celebrate National Stationery Week, The Pen Shop invited people of all ages to indulge their creative streak by writing a short story. We are pleased to announce the winner and runners up of the age 18+ category.

Winner of the Age 18+ Category

Peter Gill

peter gill story edit3

Runner Up Entry:

Barbara Shaw

The Eternal Pen Friend

A hush fell over the room as the amazing voice of the female soprano drifted in from the wings of the stage. It was as sparkling as ice crystals cutting through the heat of a hot summer’s day.

After singing about three bars of the beautiful song she emerged from the wings of the stage gracefully, her long gown sweeping the floor. Not only was the song beautiful so was the singer – glamorously dressed in a low cut evening gown with a sparkling jewel sitting perfectly at the décolleté The single diamond moved up and down slightly as her voice rose to a crescendo.

The performance was superb, lifting the audience into the heights of fantasy. The choreographer had chosen wisely – with a concentration upon perfect acoustics and using lighting so subtle in the auditorium but so bright on stage that the orchestra’s instruments shone – the saxophones looked like pure gold, the conductor’s batten like a slim-line pen yielding power and control over the huge orchestra.

Her performance of the first tune was greeted rapturously by an appreciative audience and she then went on to introduce her colleague and fellow opera singer, sweeping off the stage and leaving it for him to transport the audience to the delights of his strong operatic performance.

Before the interval the audience were asked to write out any requests for songs they wished to hear and to have them dedicated to loved ones, perhaps for special occasions – choosing a favourite or meaningful song. They had to write these requests on stationery provided by the Opera Company. Writing legibly and concisely, giving the name of the request, their name and the name of the person they were requesting the song for and the reason for it.

The stationery was provided but not the pens. Julian aged 21 had accompanied his father to the Concert in celebration of his father’s 60th birthday – it had been Julian’s birthday present to his father. He wanted to make the evening even more special by sending in a request for his father’s favourite song.

He glanced at the young lady sitting next to him, she was young, brunette and handsome with a rosy glow to her translucent complexion. She appeared to be alone, but was writing a request. She was using a slim-line silver, antique pen. His first thoughts were to ask her if he could borrow this, but looking at the elegant instrument he was hesitant. He looked behind him to see if someone had a more humble looking implement. The girl saw Julian’s anxious look and generously offered him her pen. She smiled shyly at him. He gratefully accepted her offer and meticulously wrote down the name of the song, the reason for his request, his father’s name and he signed it Julian – his son. The requests were collected from the audience and duly presented to the singers.

The performers choose consensus requests for the most popular songs stated, reading out the requests.

The beautiful blonde soprano swept again onto the stage – this time wearing a pale blue and silver dress which clung to her sylph like figure. She walked up to the microphone and the conductor rose his batten. The orchestra struck up and again the beautiful voice rang out.

Only those members of the audience who were sitting close to the stage saw the conductor kick one of the spot lights. He had in fact detected that the light was on fire. The early flicker struggled and seemed to expire. The song continued – then suddenly like a bomb – a boom rang out –as the light exploded. The stage was engulfed in flames. Panic reigned – the musicians struggled to exit the stage. The flames fanned out – reaching the auditorium within minutes. Sprinklers sprung into action in the auditorium drenching the fleeing people, but still the flames ranged. There were people everywhere, in the isles, climbing over the seats, scrambling to leave the building as quickly as they could.

Julian dragged his father without preamble to the end of the row of seats – the charming girl sitting next to Julian was gone – on the floor lay her beautiful antique pen. In the chaos Julian struggled to retrieve it as it fell onto the next level of seats and people pushed by anxious to escape what could become a raging inferno.

Once outside the building – the sound of the sirens of the arriving fire engines were deafening – the crowd shocked and shaken. Julian searched anxiously for the brunette who had been sitting next to him. He held onto her pen. His father was anxious to leave the scene and escape the horrific blaze.

When they arrived home, Julian looked again at the pen and realised that on it was engraved a name, the name of the owner he assumed. He felt a real need to return this beautiful and perhaps valuable pen to it’s rightful owner. He looked in the telephone directory for the name, he searched the Internet and to his delight he found the name Amanda Sarsfield as a person living in North West Manchester. He telephoned her and there began their romance.

Now five years later it is Julian and Amanda’s wedding day– they will use the pen to sign the register.

Runner Up Entry

Kevin O´Donovan

Language, truth and more…fun

A hush Fell over the room as someone, a boy no doubt let out a short pert fart. Eys all rolled in various directions. Everyone gave out ” it was him, not me!” look. Fortunately it wasn’t a stinky one, just letting off air in frustration.

” and that’s that !” said the head to the inspector. It couldn’t have happened at a better moment. A week of being rushed off our feet, making sure most things were in order, and all we wanted was to relax. Well thanks that little person, the four year old, who made us laugh. Timing is important in comedy. They all blushed only one smiled though. I have my suspicions.

In these workshop classes, anyone is suspect as , in the name of group bonding and cohesion these are mixed age and ability classes, upper age 5 lower 3. Who were the suspects? It’s always the one who you least suspect. My bet goes with Andrew. Quiet as a mouse until Christmas. All smiles and nods, on the mat. Then as if someone had put extra protein in his underpants, he just goes around whizzing like there’s no tomorrow , speech and blurbs totally out of synch with the rest of his body, he goes around the yard at playtime flailing and blurting ” another goal!”. He´s happy, im happy, there’s no ball or goals in sight. Don´t ever lose your imagination, children.

Was it Rafaela? She’s very house proud or should I say, knows her personal space well. She gets very uppity and fidgety if someone sits 0.11111mmm within her range. She´ll get up, lurch forward arms stretched out and a grimace stretches her face downward and she starts to lose her breath, tears jerk. But no come on, Rafaela no need to scream and shout. Fart if you may and look down in dismay, that’s within acceptable behavior. Crying just because someone’s trying to get close to you in a friendly four your old way is just not on. I mean I´ve only got to look at the rewards and punishments chart and you know perfectly well what I’m talking about, ahem, Rafaela.

Was it leah? I mean recently she’s been looking very super mode-lish, no bows or ribbons, just kinda “disco Barbie” look or is it ” horsey Barbie” she has been showing off a lot and looks well too grown up for a four year ‘old. Then she came in wearing a diamante incrusted Hannah Montana pink, long sleeved top imprinted with ” who’s the boss? Hannah is!” all said though, she’s quick of the mark and knows her colours well (confuses blanco with black) and recites the alphabet beautifully. Could her polished look mask a conceited fart? The jury is out.

Why learn a language . Let’s face it we do it quite easily from 0 -6 years old. Do we remember how we learnt the past participle of the verb to do, or the importance of third person with an s on the end? Not that it matters these days when txt spk lts us omt lts o thgs spcly vwls.
We did it absorbing the things around us with play and some hard knocks. We needed to survive. For me at least it’s always been the sounds of language that have interested me. From at least when we start sprouting hormones.

French was like a ray of light on first thing Tuesday morning amongst the grey gritty weather, the teacher she wasn’t far off. But when she started to roll out the words. I was in a trance and nothing else mattered. I took a soft spot for her despite her wailing and screeching of class control. The sounds were enough for me to swat under my bedcovers late at night with funky little flash cards bough from WH smiths that had phrases like “je veux un lit pour deux personnes pour trois jours síl vous plait” then those eventually took me off to Disneyland Paris where I learnt to say cheesy stuff like “have a nice day” and learning all the names of the 7 dwarves in French. We were always running out of key rings, fluffy toys, mugs, pencils of simplet et joyeux . ( dopey and happy). Prof( doc) you’d see him on sale a lot discounted. Snow white would pass through the shop on times shed come over the plastic bridge hand in hand with- dopey.

Pretty girls like to have fun, And that’s another thing about learning don’t be too serious about keeping it serious.

Language makes us human, accents keep us humane… we can share, give, lend borrow and sometimes we tell lies, I wonder if lies exist in all human languages. There’s about 6,000.
The economic reasons in the changing global climate for studying a language are useful and valid, but it’s a fading one. Communication is changing like language.
Kids inspire me again, like the internet; they jitter and have moments of fine and silly gobbeldy gook. But they live and breathe they are organic and human and 3 dimensional; they grow naturally
There’s no soul on the internet it’s just bits of information.

I just don’t get these people. So how can they be so fun loving and slap happy then bring it all down with a nagging “ the problem here in our country is that..” are they still adjusting to new ways of thinking , do they know how to think. I’ll always be the foreigner. I’ve stopped trying to adjust. Too many people with moustaches, male and female thinking that they’re more important than what’s before them. All hot air, arm flailing in the sun, get over it, the kids do, the real ones they don’t act, they break wind and its acceptable, unregimented and ahem, free.

Runner Up Entry

Martin Richmond

Dennis’ Demons

A hush fell over the room as Dennis Pringle, entirely missing his beer mat; clattered an empty glass down on the bar! A geriatric group in the corner booth paused briefly between the wild click of their dominoes to huff in chorus. The barman briefly lifted a disgruntled brow from his newspaper propped between the ‘Dark Dungeon’ and ‘Darkest Dungeon’ beer pumps.
Dennis waved a hand meekly in apology.

He was having problems with a “lazy eye” that gave him pronounced double-vision when he was overtired, like now.

The alcohol that coasted through his system relaxed the muscles to his right eye even further, making things visually, quite challenging.
He gazed down at the two, empty glasses in front of him on the bar and decided, since he had definitely put down only one, it was time to call it a day. Although calling it a night would have been more accurate given the distinct lack of daylight lingering outside the two bay windows adjoining the two matching, etched-glass front doors.
When Dennis finally managed to navigate through the correct door of “THE WICKED PIG” public house and into the street he paused to take a deep breath. The empty street swayed very slightly over vanishing patches of rain and a double row of streetlights spiked their beady, yellow eyes in reflection. Dennis fiddled with the multiple sets of buttons on his jacket and admitted defeat, deciding open was good, as it was a mild night anyway. He stepped gingerly out into the centre of the road between two sets of wavy, white lines, pausing beneath numerous streetlight halos to check his watch. Luckily it sharply beeped the hour, which helped him decide which one of the two on his wrist to focus on and realised it was midnight.

He nodded to himself as if agreeing with the time and looked up to find a pair of brightly coloured figures approaching him. Both were dressed in dark red, silken costumes with floor-length, flowing capes. Large curled horns sprouted like melted stalagmites out from bushy, flowing red hair that cascaded about their skeletal shoulders. They both carried gleaming pitchforks and twitched serpent-like tails on the ground behind them.
Dennis seemed quite unfazed at the strange duo.
“Damn fine costume pal,” said Dennis, managing not to slur. “Was thinkin’ of hiring somethin’ like it for the Halloween do down at ‘The Wicked Pig’ next week? It was a toss-up between that or a Zombie and ‘avin’ seen yours I think I’ll plump for the demon look, or is it a devil one?
“DEMON,” howled the figures in unison, in Darth Vader-like growls, that echoed fitfully down the street.
“Right,” said Dennis, planting his feet even wider apart to counter the sway, “but can I sh-uggesht you lose the dodgy ginger wig, it’s a bit, Spag Bol-ish?”
“IT IS MY OWN HAIR,” they screamed in anger!

“Sorry pal, no offence, didn’t realise. I can see it now,” he lied, leaning forward and squinting. “Suits ya, it really does, but, can I ask, are you brothers?”
“You sure pal, ‘cos yer mate looks an awful lot like ya?”
The demonic duo rose gradually up in the air, levitating to about two feet above the road.
“Nice trick,” said Dennis, obviously quite unimpressed, “but I’ve seen that David Blaine guy do it on the telly quite a few times now.”
Dennis wasn’t accounting for the fact that he’d watched repeats of the same programme.
“PAH, I never use mere parlour tricks,” said the demons, as they began belching out smoke and flames. The orange tongues of fire licked savagely over their faces and a column of purple smoke billowed out into the night air.
“Y’know pal, said Dennis, wagging a finger, “that’s just how my indigestion gets after a curry, it fair burns me up.”
“DOLT,” they squealed, and plunged their tridents simultaneously into the tarmac of the road!

A crack began to split the road in two between them like a small earthquake, widening and stretching to eventually halt at the kerbs on either side.
“The council won’t be too pleased with you pal! They get enough complaints as it is about the ruddy potholes and ‘ow they ‘aven’t got the money to fix ‘em.”
“THE COUNCIL,” they both yelled? “Why should I be concerned over a mere council?”
“You should be sunshine,” spat Dennis, “they think they’re Gods anyway and they’ll crucify you for this!”
The demons, returning to the ground from their floating vantage point, seemed somewhat taken aback?
“The Council of – the Gods you say? I am unafraid of mere Gods and their puny threats of punishment,” they stated, in a much more subdued, hushed tone.
“I must now depart,” they said, turning swiftly. ”You mortal, are beneath my consideration!”
“Ang about pal,” snapped Dennis angrily, gesturing at the crack, “what about this lot then?”
The demons each raised the same eyebrow over the torn tarmac and expelled candy floss plumes of smoke from their nostrils.

“An easy matter to rectify and to demonstrate to you the awesome power that I wield…”
The demons gently tapped the road with their tridents and the crack suddenly came together, sealed as if by an invisible zipper.
When Dennis looked up they had both vanished!

“I should damn well think so,” he growled, “bloody vandals!”

Dennis resumed his stagger homeward bound, but took to the brace of paths beneath the rows of street lights, being careful to avoid the double litter bins and multiple post boxes along the way. He pondered as he walked, wondering which bed he would sleep in tonight and which of his two wives would be awake to give him an earful? But first he would have to see which bus he could find to get him there?

A double, double Decker perhaps?

National Stationery Week Competition: Winners Age 8-12 Category

National Stationery Week is a celebration of the written word and all things stationery. We want to get more people putting pen to paper and writing by hand more often, and spelling stationery correctly with an ‘e’!

The truth is, technology has merely distracted us from the joy and importance of writing, it hasn’t replaced it. There is still something special about stationery and receiving a handwritten letter or card.

To celebrate National Stationery Week, The Pen Shop invited people of all ages to indulge their creative streak by writing a short story. We are pleased to announce the winner and runners up of the age 8-12 category.

Winner of the Age 8-12 Category

Aiden Layug (Age 10)

The Beast

A hush fell over the room: as I stepped outside of the ruin. My headache only grew worse by the second. I stumbled through the forest. The air was dense, the towering trees were closing in on me like a Venus fly trap. My eyes were stinging, my body trembled. I noticed a swift figure moving across the swamped grassland; I drew my sword in caution.

Suddenly, the figure produced a shrieking noise – plants arched down like a stick collapsing. I realised there was a shadow of a beast, overpowering another. Glancing down at my body, drenched in the swamp, I captured my eye onto an oversized eel, which was tearing small chunks out of my side; blood turned the murky swamp water red. In panic, I ripped the creature off my skin and I plunged my dagger into it’s temple. It fell, lifelessly into the swamp. The sun no longer gazed upon the sight; I saw black everywhere.

When I woke I was in a cave with red banners that had dark blue swirls. As I looked curiously, out of the cave, I saw: blunt swords and spears; men that wore clothes with leaves on; small wooden houses and my body was in bandages. Still puzzled, I sat up and yawned. My actions had brought silence and confusion. The men I saw earlier had focused their attention on me. Their beady eyes pierced my soul. When I heard a deafening screech I covered my ears and scrambled for cover. A red fiery wind blew over the mountain settlement and into the cave, which smelted the iron swords to spill and run across the floor of the cave. Cowardly, I walked backwards, attempting to avoid the smelted iron river. I was trembling in fear. Smoke had now filled the cave, causing my eyes to water; my lungs were filled with ash.

When the smoke cleared and the iron river settled, a scaled monster’s tail whipped just out of view. The scales were red and black, so detailed you could see the particles meet. Meat hooks like claws were sitting on the arch of it’s tail. Whilst people sobbed over the dead, I tried to figure out why the scaled beast attacked; I wondered if it was after something or someone: I feared it would come back.

As I went out of the cave I saw the havoc that the monster left behind. I felt guilty. Did I lead the beast here? Should I have been the hero instead of cowering in the cave? Was I responsible for these deaths?

The bodies were horrifically burnt and one was carrying a rather unusual potion. I recognised this potion and so I discreately picked it up and hid it in my sleeve. I ventured through the settlement. I was astonished to see the bodies. The once living wildlife and trees were now perished. The banners had disappeared. No one noticed my presence. Avoiding being seen, I scurried past the strangers who were aiding the injured. With a sigh, I hid out of sight beside a ruined house.

After sundown, I ventured out from the darkness, and began spreading the potion over the lifeless. I glanced at the deserted houses; flickers of the fires were still alight. I could see the walls painted with blood in the darkness. Startled, I saw the dead rise! Their eyes were repulsive enough to make someone faint.

I slowly walked backwards in disbelief wishing I had never taken the cursed potion. Would I survive? My body stiffened; my face was full of sweat; my sword was melted from the beast’s flames. I was damned…

Soon they gained upon me, my heart was pounding out of my chest, their hands were straightened in front of them and their fingers were moving rapidly, attempting to grasp my flesh. They began to groan. They moved as a sequel, everyone moving together.

Within seconds I could feel them digging their nails into my limbs. I was paralysed by the pain they inflicted. Now my eyesight was fading, the zombies horrible faces were blurry. I could tell I was going to die, because of the blood that was spilt.

In defeat I closed my eyes and waited for the fatal bite to my neck. Startled, I started to hear a faint crackle by the near post which held up the roof. The straw was burning and the mud based substance was acting like a petrol liquid, as the fire sprinted across the roof. Suddenly, a roof collapsed on to the blood thirsty zombies.

I was astonished that the roof had crushed the zombies to death, forgetting that I was severely wounded I jumped with joy. I collapsed. My body became lifeless. My body was punctured with holes where the zombies fingers ventured. I lay beside the chunks that were torn out of my side. The deafening screech returned. With no energy left in my body, I had no other choice than to wait for the beast to draw near. Its eyes were blazing red with rage, the fearlessly sharp claws on its tail straitened. I was terrified of the sight. I hoped my life would end. Painlessly. The beast started swooping down onto me. His colossal claws missed every time.

I decided to crawl slowly towards a fallen vandalised house. It was crafted by stones and they were layered precisely so the structure would not collapse. I stumbled across the stones, entering the fireproof house. The screeches of the beast were constantly heard. My ears were bleeding. The beast ventured towards the premises.

Now, the beast was using its best weapon – fire. It was bellowing flames everywhere. There was no place left to hide. I was vulnerable. The flames consumed my wounded body. I saw my own flesh turning into ash. No longer did I feel any pain. I gave my life away to the beast: my death was pitiful.


Runner Up Entry:

Emma Mewes (Age 11)

‘Quick, there’s no time to explain’ Jess said as she pulled me down the corridor. We had just been in science, doing measuring; we were measuring our stationery, while the teacher did an experiment. But it went wrong. We needed somewhere to hide we needed to get away. The thing is we had a maths test and we weren’t going to get a good score.

The day before…

‘Alice, Jess is here’ I ran down the stairs. Jess had come over to do revising, very little revising we did. We spent the whole time on the computer playing games. My mum did not find out but she will soon.

So we were running, running round the school. Everyone was in the classroom. The ‘beast’ was only after us. We ran and ran until we saw the door to the field. We ran faster and opened the door. We turned around just in time to see a giant blob dive through the door.

We closed the door and heard a sizzling noise. We thought the monster had disintegrated but we opened the door we found our class in a blob of jelly. BRRRRRRRINGGGGGGGGGG. There went the last bell. We had been running for the last two hours. We had run through the maths test. Just as the bell went we looked at the blob and it disappeared. All the class ran to their house jess ran to mine because it was closer. We did a lot of thinking and not much talking, then some eating, then some sleeping.

We woke up to a rumble. A giant rumble.  We went to the window to find green goo outside we knew what it was. We had a plan but we didn’t know if it would work…

We had made a powder, a green powder. We opened the window. The goo started to ooze in. quickly we chucked the powder at the ooze. It started to shrink. Shrink. Shrink. We looked out it was the size of a normal jelly. JJB walked past. JJB my dog. He looked at the blob and… He ate it.

All the trouble had gone.


Runner Up Entry

Marcus Layug (Age 11)

The Shadow

 A hush fell over the room as the octogenarian told his story.

“Nine years ago… A child only ten years old, was playing happily with his friends. The island was in the Pacific Ocean – a lawless country. The grass swayed in the breeze, whilst the exotic wildlife observed the children playing. The child’s name was never known, but his friends were named: Gerald, John , Zoë and Max . Whilst they played a game of hide and seek their village was invaded by a cultural tribe, which swept through the towns protecting their people. The child (who was never recovered) was a professional at the game ‘hide and seek’. He always ended the game by frightening his opposition by victoriously bellowing his catchphrase “did you miss me?”

After this particular game, a large hysterical scream of excruciating pain was heard echoing through the island. The tribe sprinted to the civilian, Max, who was pretending to be injured with a broken leg. Max accused the ten year old child of assaulting him. Max explained that the child was jealous of his popularity with their other friends and that was why he had hurt him, leaving Max by himself to mourn alone. The tribe raised their spears and hurled them at the fleeing child. The child fled instantly, avoiding the spears which were thrown. The next day Max was found dead with a blade pierced in his neck.”

Many years later … Butterflies fluttered their elegant wings contentedly. The deer- which was eating grass – retreated to her tree domain. Even though it was warm, Zoe was wearing a thick fleece which caused sweat to drip slowly down her cheek. The thick dew stuck to her trainers from the grass as if magnets. The fiery sun beat down on her with bellowing force. Even though it was morning, Zoë enjoyed watching the birds tweet loudly.

Zoë decided to head inside for a glass of water. It went cold now. Shivering cold. Pop. Blood leaked from her wound. She wanted to scream but she couldn’t as a steel blade was forced through her spine. She lay there numb, seeing a shadowy figure enter her garden and hop over the fence. Off the shadow went silently. Zoë reached for her phone but her vision went blurry. Unexpectedly, she saw Satan himself.

Meanwhile, back in the north of the island the news spread like wild fire. The shadow was never found…

Gerald had just finished his work. He had smelled a disgusting scent of gasoline which polluted his car. Gerald (who was about to vomit) unrealistically sprayed an enormous quantity of Febreeze (air freshener) until the can was empty! Snap. Unexpectedly a branch snapped. Snap. “Who’s there?” Gerald whimpered. Snap. “This isn’t funny guys”. Snap. Gerald lunged in to the car in an attempt to escape his fate. Or had he? The car broke down miles away from his house . “No, no no” he yelled furiously; the car was out of petrol. Gerald was stranded on his own highway.

“Don’t move.” Gerald’s heart pumped blood around his body. The hammer in his body was about to smash out of his ribs. Gerald dropped. A furious burn pierced straight through leather, wool ,flesh and bone. Gerald was unconscious. Help arrived minutes later. But was it soon enough?

Soon Gerald awoke with doctors swarming around him as if a pack of deer was being hunted ruthlessly. He was safe now, surely.

Night eventually came as he had been unconscious for a day and a few hours. His family refused to leave until midnight and fresh roses were placed (attractively) beside him constantly.

Minutes later the door creaked open. The leopard was back threatening him. “Did you miss me?” Blood stained the wallpaper and the bed turned blood red. Literally blood red. Seconds later security sprinted up the stairs only to find blades smashing their skulls and punishing blows in their ribs. More swarmed the stairs only to find The Shadow gone.

Specialist inspectors were there in hours, dialling army veterans to the battle field where a man slaughterer had once been. They found a small pocket knife and located The Shadow at Old Blue Cottage.

The battle happened a day later; Agent Barrel was there a new younger recruit. He was equipped with a high calibur sniper rifle. He took position and peered through his scope on the gun. A large swat team engaged the target, firing multiple rounds non meeting neither hitting their final destination. Agent Barrel engaged the house; more followed worriedly. One agent hurled frag grenades and set explosives around the house instantly. Agent Barrel saw the target and fired. All missed except one. It forced the enemy to scream in rage. Agent Barrel felt a thin blade trim his head and land in his comrades temple. The dangerous killer retreated. Finally Agent Barrel injured with splinters of wood in his thighs travelled away calmly after sobbing about his comrades.

Agent Barrel reached his house noticing his wife wasn‘t home. He shut the car door and headed inside. He decided to flick through the TV channels. Agent Barrel (real name John) was about flick through the final channel, then his blood stained the couch. “Did you miss me?”

The Shadow swung his blade; ferociously. Agent Barrel ducked and was about to attack, until The Shadow was gone. Agent Barrel reached for the gun. Nervously sweat dribbled from his chin. He saw a blur and fired. Again another blur with another bullet with another miss. For a moment he felt safe until multiple blows rammed his chest, winding him with no mercy. But everybody has a limit as to how much pain they can handle, right? John felt no pain after a while. Until consciousness swallowed him whole and spat him out as if the foul creature was disgusted that he didn’t taste nice. John awoke feeling the pain rising in waves which crashed down on him, drowning him. Every wave was stronger than the next. There was The Shadow – the monstrous nightmare which murdered undercover agents.

With the gun inches away he moved. Drowning himself again. He forced himself to grasp the gun and finally adding the last killer blow.

The shadow still kept running, still escaping, still wanting revenge. The Shadow was gone. John never fully recovered though, as every night he felt endangered, almost waiting to die. Nothing could make John forget anything, remembering one thing in particular: did you miss me?