In the long summer evenings of northern climes the air sometimes smells of words that are half-forgotten. This smell is warm and faintly fragrant and is underlined by a subtle breeze. The old floorboards creak in sing-song. The leaves are fat and heavy and tormenting the ripe branches. The words linger in the dusk and they don’t know if they want to be recalled or left in half-oblivion. If only they could be captured in ink we could see them and remember. But the bottle is empty.
It is a Field’s Rainbow Range of Coloured Inks bottle that takes Palimpsest’s fancy this evening - a substantial glass bottle with an arrow-shaped paper label - green chequered border, a rainbow, a devilish ink-blot boy revelling in the ink droplets dripping from the quill. It was produced sometime in the 1920s by Caribonum Ltd, a carbon paper, typewriter ribbons and ink manufacturer, which set up business in Leyton, London, in 1908. A paper strip around the bottle neck informs of the ink’s colour: 334D Green.
And so in this late summer evening when the old words are floating in the breeze, the old dried ink is stirred and slowly dissolves and receives the steel pen, after many years and is resurrected. It touches the paper, it dries. It is a watered, fossilized green. But an instant before it dries the eye can catch a glimpse of its old forgotten brilliance. Of the time when it shone and the world was open to possibilities.