LEARNING to write neatly was a painful business at my Glasgow primary school. Painful because one of my teachers had contracted polio as a youngster which had left her with a weakness in her arm, so that her writing on the chalkboard could be erratic. To ensure we did not copy such wayward habits, a disciplinarian teacher, an unmarried woman I recall, was sent in once a week to check our handwriting, with her leather strap tucked expectantly in her handbag.

An inability to recreate aitches where the line went all the way to the top, and tees, where the letter extended only two-thirds the height of an aitch, led to a swift and stinging belting. Dyslexia was unknown then, and I can only assume that those who suffered from the condition were regular beneficiaries of a belting. Happy days indeed.

Many older readers will have similar tales of neat writing being beaten into them rather than it being presented to them as an enjoyable experience, so it was a pleasure to learn this week that there are indeed people in Glasgow who have discovered the sheer joy of writing.

Not writing in the sense of creating stories through fiction and journalism, but writing as in calligraphy - creating what are really works of art with copperplate, italic, gothic or other pleasing scripts. Some are similar to those painstakingly created by monks hundreds of years ago, others are modern art works, mixing up the different scripts, sometimes using circles of words to please the eye, although it would have earned you a swift strapping if you had tried it at my primary school back then.

The group, Glasgow Scribes, meets monthly at Caledonian University. It is not a class, but instead the coming together of like-minded individuals, the foundations of many clubs and societies that permeate Glasgow.

At their meetings, someone may give a demonstration of a particular technique. Members will then simply chat, exchange ideas, and give advice where asked.

They will then go home, and when the mood takes them, like any other hobby, lose themselves for an hour or two, improving their techniques and trying new challenges.

"It's a lovely hobby - very relaxing," says club official Evelyn Litster who has been hanging the club members' best efforts for their annual exhibition running all this month. "Calligraphy comes from the Greek words for the beauty of writing," she explains.

But what's the appeal? "Well you go home, clear your dining room table - few of us have the luxury of having an art room - and you just get engrossed in what you are doing."

Members, like many clubs, come from all backgrounds. There are engineers, teachers, nurses and surgeons. Wait, I thought doctors were terrible writers? "Calligraphy is different from your everyday writing," says Evelyn.

Members will often recreate sayings or pithy remarks in beautiful script which can then be framed and hanged on a wall. One exhibit is an observation by John Lennon: "When I was five-years-old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

Good point, well made, John.

Evelyn shows me a neat trick in the script. The John Lennon quotation has more space below it than above it, which curiously makes it look more centred. A trick of the eye.

In fact there are a few tricky techniques, many of them passed down by the monks. A simple one is to put in lines in pencil for you to work on, then after rub out the lines.

Making a mistake after you have worked on your script for some time must be daunting. But as Evelyn says: "Even the best monks could make mistakes. If they could they would scrape the calfskin to get rid of it. Or you can enhance the mistake by turning it into a seagull or a flower."

Which of course reminds us of the monk who was copying old texts and on a whim went down into the cellars to see the original work. He rushes back to show the head monk who bursts into tears after reading it and sobs: "So the word is celebrate not celibate."

Anyway, my attention is drawn to another exhibit, a sweet, even a touch saccharine quotation from Tommaso Ferraris: “They told me that to make her fall in love, I had to make her laugh. But every time she laughs, I’m the one who falls in love.” Good one Tommaso. But what really attracts your attention is that the club member starts each line in red ink and gradually it moves to gold by the end of the line.

Evelyn tries to explain parallel pens to me but I'm not quite getting it. Basically calligraphy can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.

Glasgow Scribes put out a stall at the annual Hobbycraft exhibition at the SECC to encourage members of the public to take it up. Folk come along and say that at some time they were given a pen set for a birthday or whatever, and it has lain in a cupboard since. Others mention smacked hands when they made mistakes at school.

Club members encourage them to get the pens out and try again.

There are classes than you can attend at Strathclyde University and the City of Glasgow College to be taught calligraphy. Glasgow Scribes is more of a social occasion to chat and pick up tips informally - and of course exhibit your best work at the annual exhibition.

It takes place just now in the back exhibition area of Cass Art, a roomy art shop at 63 Queen Street in the city centre. Just call in - the friendly staff will happily show you the way.

Even my strap-happy teacher would have been impressed by the wonderful scripts with every t crossed and i dotted.