This is our last ‘Five Minute Interview’ as we start to get too excited to do interviews, as the festival is only TWO DAYS AWAY! Hannah went to speak to Malcolm, the owner of Iridium, one of Kendal Poetry Festival’s favourite local shops, where you’ll find a find a range of famous names in the fields of pens, pencils, inks and stationery. Malcolm’s stall at last year’s festival was extremely popular and we are really happy that he has agreed to come and sell some of his products at this year’s festival. We hope you enjoy the interview, and thanks to Malcolm for taking time out to answer these questions.
HH: What did you do in your pre- Iridium life?
M: In the real World, I was a Civil / Structural Engineer… working in the energy sector for the likes of BP, INEOS and Sellafield. Large multi-million pound projects… writing specifications and scoping out work to clean up nuclear waste in Cumbria. Also refurbishing huge tanks in Scotland for storing North Sea oil and gas. Very smelly and very messy.
Oh… and in the 1980’s I had a sandwich bar in London, when a BLT or spicy chicken on granary bread was new… and avocados an exotic fruit. Who would have thought…!
HH: How did you come to own Iridium?
M: Well… one fine day, I attended one Corporate meeting too many. Surrounded by men in suits… I sat gazing at my latest fountain pen. Italian, colourful, gold pointed nib, majestic. Turning it round and around in my hand… wondering why I was still working in Engineering when my dream job could be selling Fine Stationery in a shop in Kendal. ‘Ping’… that was it. I gave notice to quit the next day and within three months I opened the door to Iridium in the New Shambles. That was nearly four years ago… selling fountain pens in Kendal. How can that be…? I’m still smiling.
HH: What is your favourite product within Iridium?
M: Not just one, that’s impossible. I can’t resist Japanese stationery… LIFE notebooks so smooth and stylish… and iroshizuku (translates to coloured dew droplet) ink… the colours and bottles are to die for. Also Blackwing pencils for that quick sketch or scribble.
HH: What would you recommend as your most useful product for a poet?
M: Without doubt… a Leuchtturm1917 notebook with pen loop and Lamy fountain pen… maybe a Blackwing pencil. The new metallic range… copper, silver and gold covers are my current favourite. And turquoise ink. But no erasers… never rub out your mistakes. How else will you learn for the future…?
HH: What is the strangest thing that has ever happened within your shop?
M: OMG…! One hot afternoon last summer, I had the shop door wide open and a lady popped her head in… ‘I think a mouse just ran in to your shop’ she said… ‘it’s hiding behind the door’
‘OK… thanks’ I said.
I moved the door aside… to find the biggest RAT I’ve ever seen. Horror…! Another customer pushed the door back trapping the rat whilst I grabbed a broom and huge cardboard box. Between us, we forced a squealing rat in to the box… and rehoused it back to the riverbank. Urghhh…!
Note to self… this story may put people off visiting Iridium. Not the brightest piece of marketing…! Haha…