I changed my handwriting when I was 15, replacing my rather childish hand by a more flowing adult style embellished by flourishes. I adapted it from the written style of a movie actor, and it took just a couple of weeks for it to become my natural handwriting. It saw me through my school exams. I changed it again when I was 19, but it took longer because I changed the entire style from a round-hand script to an italic hand. I bought fine quality writing paper, chisel-tipped pens and calligrapher's jet-black ink. I developed a chancery cursive script, originally based on that of Ludovico Arrighi, who wrote the first manual on handwriting in the 16th Century, but updated by the American calligrapher Paul Standard. The basis is to hold the chisel tip of the nib at 45 degrees, so that the strokes made upward at that angle are thin, while the ones made down at 45 degrees are thick. Ones made horizontally or vertically are of medium thickness. I practised my lettering every day, sometimes for hours at a time, until my hand ached and there was a deep impression on my finger where I had gripped the pen.

It took me about four weeks to acquire a fluent script I could write at speed, and more weeks to improve it. It remained my natural hand, even though university note-taking at speed degraded it somewhat. I bought a Waterman ‘Calligraph’ fountain pen that had to be stripped and cleaned periodically because the ink would clog it. Sometimes I would illuminate capitals in red at the beginning of a piece, even pen-drawing little animals within them. On special occasions I lettered and illuminated parchments.