At school I found essays difficult: presentation was my problem. As I wrote I’d make mistakes. I was always writing the wrong word, which meant I would have to cross the wrong word out and write a new one above. My mistakes were so frequent my pages were blizzards of corrections. I would also make blots. Lots of them. That was the problem with writing with a fountain pen as children did in those days. They splattered and spluttered no matter how careful you were.
My messy pages upset me. Why couldn’t I produce page after page of clean, fair copy like the other boys and girls amongst whom I sat in classrooms that smelt of chalk dust and wax floor polish? These paragons seemed to have no difficulty covering page after page with their lovely flowing handwriting, often rendered in turquoise or emerald or other exotic colours and always unblemished by blots and emendations. But I couldn’t. It just wasn’t fair.