One of my favourite Theodore Roosevelt stories is that of the “green-gold fountain pen”, written by Roosevelt admirer Ambrose Flack for the New Yorker magazine back in the late 1940s.
It’s the story of the author as a young boy who loses his green-gold fountain pen after spotting his hero Teddy while out birdwatching. Losing his pen, he instead finds the notebook of the former President, which he seeks to return to Roosevelt the next day as he appears in court, hoping in turn to get his pen back.
But while he manages to get the notebook back to Roosevelt – who he can see has his pen clipped to his pocket, he finds himself unable to speak to his hero, even when sitting next to him, and loses his pen forever. Instead he imagines what great documents might have been signed by his green-gold fountain pen.
So when it came to buying myself a fountain pen, something to remember the recent election by, naturally I picked a green-gold one and imagined myself, like my hero Roosevelt, using it to write important things.
That’s what I was thinking right before it stopped working during the Campaign for Democracy meeting in Canterbury last night.
I wrote the rest of my notes with an old ink pen, but ended up writing pages of notes on what was an interesting, encouraging and entertaining meeting.
I’d advise everyone to go to the CDCD website or Facebook page for an update on the meeting, which was hosted and chaired well for the purpose of debate and the airing of ideas. I might not have agreed with everything, I’m not a supporter of Whitstable having a Town Council for instance, but I never felt like I had to agree.
Council leader Simon Cook spoke well on the Council’s position, dispersing the fog that some people assume descends to protect the council from scrutiny. Stuart Walker (making his public speaking debut as a Cllr), attending with his 15-year-old son, brought up the need to engage with young people, while men and women of every generation made their point about what was important about democracy, and how we might improve it.
Then I spoke, trying in mangled terms, to bring up the point that most people are not as politically minded as those of us in the room, and that while Twitter, and Facebook, and maybe even blogging, has its place, we still have to go to them, rather than expect the electorate to come to us, whether that’s a surgery or a residents meeting.
I wanted to be eloquent. I wanted to hold the attention of the audience with the same quotable rhetoric as Theodore might have. In reality, clutching my now useless green-gold fountain pen, I was a little less so, and the audience gave me their attention because they were brought up well, and polite enough to listen.
Still, it was a lot of fun. I’ll try, if I can, to get to the next one. For now I have a pen to fix.