"Nibs were loose and slipped into a simple holder. Ink was in inkwells which fitted into the holes in your desktop. The ink was provided when a trusty monitor filled the inkwells from a pourer with a long thin spout."
Oh yes I remember, it well!
I also remember the evil things that went into them, like the little rolled balls of paper and paper clips to be flicked across the room! Loads fun!
"It is a wonder any writing ever got done---and miracle of miracles, a few achieved tidiness and beauty and got marked 10 out of 10!"
It is about the only thing I got 10 out of 10 for... I used to regularly get my writing put up on the wall.
We too had to learn to do copper plate type writing. I thoroughly enjoyed this. I was at primary school though when I learnt to do this. (Britton Road)
I wasn't at Wheatley Street. At Stoke Park I had an altogether different experience over writing ... not sure if I have told you this before ... but one teacher took exception to they way I wrote. I used to achieve the aforesaid 10/10 perfection by having my paper twisted to one side and my pen was also not pointed over my shoulder but out to one side.
Said teacher told me to change my ways ... then when I didn't, she proceeded to remove all my pens and pencils so I couldn't write anything at all! I used to have to go and claim them back from the classroom after the class. After several days of this nonsense, I was fed up with it. So when I went for them I said 'Can I have my pencils?' .. she fetched them and I walked away .. She called me back and said 'what did you say?', I replied 'nothing, why?'. She never did it again.
Reading and writing was a big thing in my life then ... I had so badly wanted to do both that I can still clearly remember the days I achieved them. I always wanted a Waterman fountain pen like my Dad had. It had this beautiful marbled finish to it!
"So --- time marches on --- and pen nibs are almost as redundant"
Well, in school they are, but later in life I took up calligraphy as a hobby and they are still used there. I learned to do italic, round hand and uncials. Versals too. I loved those and also learned to make them with a brush.