Life, Love, Long Hair, Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth, and other mysteries

All this and more, from a semi-Serbian, slightly sane, former editor for physicians and surgeons, who is the mother of seven kids.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Calligraphy and My First Full Time Job

I've long had a love for words, not just in how they sound but also in how they appear in print.

When I was 19, I bought a book called Letraset Product Manual, for the sole purpose of flipping through to admire the artistic letter styles.  It was hard to find and wasn't cheap, but I had income, very few responsibilities, and an eclectic taste in art.

When I was 21, I took a brief calligraphy course through the local Continuing Ed.  After that, I hand calligraphed some certificates for a non-profit organization, but never used this skill for my financial gain.

My already neat handwriting improved, though.  I take joy in adding a flourish to the tails on my lower case y's or g's even on things as mundane as grocery lists.

What a joy for me when I discovered computer fonts, which were rapidly growing in those mid 1980s.

My first full time job at the age of 18 was as a typesetter for the local newspaper.

Basic fonts like Helvetica and Times New Roman were employed by the dinosaur typesetting machines on which I transcribed handwritten notes from reporters into camera-ready sheets for layout.

But there were some fonts that caught my eye, which I could not resist occasionally sneaking to use for frivolous things such as my name.

Oooh, if my boss would have caught me, I know he would have screamed at me in front of everyone in the office.  If you knew my boss, you would know that is no exaggeration.  Ernie Bexley was a notorious name in the newspaper industry around Vancouver, BC.

Seriously, one time he called me into his office, where his stern wife stood glaring at me.  The two of them proceeded to yell at me about the hat I was wearing during work.

I had never heard of a "no hats" policy in the production room of the place I'd worked for nearly two years.

On and on they went until I left the office with tears in my eyes.

As I walked past the reporters, a few of them gave me sympathetic glances.  I knew full well that they, too, had been yelled at by the Bexleys, and not necessarily in the privacy of a thin-walled office.

The Bexleys had challenged me to find any other newspaper who allowed the wearing of hats in the production room.

So that is exactly what I did when I got home.

I called, among a few other newspaper production rooms, Pacific Press, where the Vancouver Sun and The Province are produced.

"I'm calling to ask what your policy is on people wearing hats in the production room," I said.

The bemused voice on the other end went along with my odd question and we conversed.

In short, it was revealed to me that there was no concern whatsoever as to what clothing was chosen by production staff as they were out of the public eye.

The question was posed to me, "May I ask which newspaper has given you such a hard time?"

As soon as I said, "The Delta Optimist," I could almost see the knowing nod of a head and the rolling of eyes as the man said, "Ah, yes, Ernie Bexley."

It is now a laughable memory for me, and working from home, I don't expect I will ever be in a position of hearing negative words from abusive bosses again.  I am free to squander company time if I so choose, because I am my own company.

Here's one site I found in a recent squandering session:

And here are a few lovely signatures I have sampled on that site:

This one is called "Delinquente".  I like that title.

This one is "Before The Rain".

This one has the odd title of "Ink In The Meat".

This one is "Jellyka Delicious", and looks quite like something I would write by hand.

  This one is called  "Respective".

This one is "Some Weatz" (whatever that means).

This one is entitled "The King and Queen".

This last one is called "Sh*t Happens" (without the asterisk, but I avoid cuss words in my writing.)

OK, my squander session is over for today.  Thanks for reading, and may you be inspired to write some pointless blog entries of your own, knowing that you yourself have taken the time to read something as pointless as this.  Muah!

Squandrously yours,

Aerosmith:  Kings and Queens

And, oh, my, I cannot resist adding one more song to this blog:

(Dang you, EMI, for blocking the studio version from my country.  Oh well, y'all probably know this Joe Cocker song, "You Can Leave Your Hat On", and possibly its famous scene to go with it from the movie "9-1/2 Weeks", but anyway, Mr. Bexley, now deceased, I'm gon' leave mah hat on.  Cha!)


  1. Yes, dear Mr. Bexley, circa 1968, who told this reporter after being off sick for a day: "Get sick on your own time." But Ernie and Edgar Dunning, who remained on the job to 100, gave this Ontario export a much needed job. Called the Optimist home for nine months before shifting to the Richmond Review for five years.

    John Cosway

  2. That sounds about right - reporters staying for less than a year! And I can just hear "Get sick on your own time" being said in his grouchy British accent. I gotta show this to a friend of mine who worked there with me. She'll surely agree it totally sounds like something he'd say!

    I'm sure Ernie was bipolar, NPD, or worse. Some days he could be so nice. One word about him: Unforgettable. And not in a good way.


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