Some women devote time and effort to finding their signature lipstick. Or a signature style of bag, or sunglasses, or… Something that they use regularly, that becomes associated with them, that in some symbolic way says something about them.
Being a writer, and an eccentric long-hand fountain-pen writer at that, I was looking for something a little different: a signature ink. Which could actually be used for a signature. OK, you could probably use a lipstick for a signature, but it would be very messy and probably not very good for the lipstick either.
It was not the simplest of tasks. For a start, there are a huge number of fountain pen inks out there, even in this electronic age, and they all have their positives and negatives, their proponents and their critics. At least I had some criteria to narrow down the options, not least availability and cost.
Since my pen has a transparent barrel, I wanted an ink that would look good sloshing around, something with a bit of life to it. But I also wanted something that would look good on the page: not too light to read easily or too colourful to be of general use.
In the end, I settled on Waterman’s Havana Brown. Or at least, it used to be Havana Brown, and most people still call it that, since it’s a nicer and more evocative name than simply Absolute Brown, which is what Waterman have renamed it.
As far as I can tell, the only reason to rename it was that Havana Brown is also a kind of cat, and frankly, that might even work in its favour.
Better to associate with a cat than Fidel Castro’s beard, yes? Particularly given the CIA’s attempt to eliminate said beard with extreme prejudice. (I kid you not.)
However. Back to the ink. If you want a complex analysis of Waterman’s Havana Brown – or in fact almost any ink known to mankind – head to the Fountain Pen Network, universal trove of pen and ink related knowledge.
For myself, taking the less analytical approach, I think it’s a nice rich brown, with a hint of red to it. It’s dark enough for a good clear read, without being so dark as to look like a sub-standard black. At times it’s even slightly reminiscent of some of da Vinci’s drawings – in colour, not line, obviously, as I can’t even draw a convincing stick-man.
Take it all in all, I’m pleased with my choice, which is just as well. By my calculations, there are about half a million words in this bottle, just waiting to come out.