How much do you love your writing instruments?

That bad hmm?  Join the club.

I’ve been trying to have a clear out, it’s been going on for days.  I have huge numbers of writing instruments, despite the fact that the writing instrument I usually use is a laptop.  It was years via the typewriter I was given age eight (still in the loft and likely to stay there; it does not possess a semi colon, poor little thing,) the word processor and the first computer, that the pen fell from my hand.

However, a mere flex of the fingers and it is back.  Eleven jars of them sitting on this table.  In the tidy up they have been sorted and categorised, rearranged and regrouped so I can find them. like some ‘take your partners, do see do,’ for pens, which, helpful as is its intention, has not caused the automatic pencil to surface.

It’s a major thing, an automatic pencil.  For years I cleaved unto the cheap plastic ones until I bought a proper one.  This it is, that has turned up missing.  It looks ordinary.  It could almost be in disguise as a ballpoint pen, except that I do not allow ball point pens, anywhere.  They flock, unbidden to the jar on the kitchen windowsill, but I did not buy them, neither did I put them there.  I’m sorry but I do not like them. The barrels are always warm and always feel like plastic.  One of the more difficult requests of my mother’s in her final years was for a packet (a packet!  As if one wasn’t bad enough) of plastic retractable ball point pens.  In different colours!  Horrors and shoctrick shocks.  I thought I had been properly brought up but it turns out I had been adopted.  By ball point pen users.  I had to buy them multiple times, the carers used them and then lost them.  They passed from hand to hand, like good time pens who didn’t give a damn and would stick their nibs out for anyone with a thumb on their button.

A pen is like a cat.  It needs love and stroking and an owner.

I do love teeny tiny 0.1mm fibre tips.  They are a benefit of civilization.  I have an actual box with gold edges I bought off a shopping channel with numerous colours of them, each living in a little silk lined-ish depression.  They are brilliant if you are drawing or painting to outline so unobtrusively, the viewer can be unwittingly directed to look at what you wish to show them.  Glorious.  I do have a working set or six in plastic wallets and am quite likely to keep the posh set for special occasions until they dry out.

Oh where has my nice automatic pencil disappeared to?

It has a buddy who is an automatic eraser, who is missing it and quite bereft.

I first saw an automatic eraser at portraiture.  This was a class run by the local art shop full of artists drawing a hired model in a room altogether, breathing on each other without masks.  Long ago and far away, when we could do such things.  In this class I watched a retired teacher erase an entire portrait with an automatic eraser and thought him louche, at least.  Then like a major drugs hit, one leaped into my hand and I was gone.  Then I bought the nice automatic pencil that was not the cheap plastic one and they looked so good together.  One doing the drawing, one doing the rubbing out, like a drug dealer and his hitman, they wandered into separate  jars from time to time but always ended up together. Now the eraser lurks, alone, waiting for work.

Oh where is my automatic pencil?

There is a website which I am reluctant to tell you about.  Sign up, they do great emails.  I love them. I will tell you in a footnote, no sooner, or lose you forever and it will cost you, if I push this lot on to you.

I have been lurking.  You can purchase automatic pencils that cost hundreds of pounds.  You can change the currency to your own coinage and it will cost you hundreds of whatever you trade in and they ship worldwide.  Sorry, sorry sorry.

Hours.  I have spent so many hours looking for my next automatic pencil, there may be disappointment if the original pot occupant turns up.  He’ll have to be a back-up if he does.

Yes my writing instruments acquire pronouns.  You already know I think plants are people, are you surprised?

There is little doubt that some writing instruments are herd animals. One wooden colouring pencil alone, is just a lost sheep, regardless of its colour.  Packs of thin fibre tips in differing grades of thinness are a class, take out the ultra thin one and lose it and the others will speedily start wandering round your desk, looking for it.  Some will end up on the floor, lose their caps and just generally behave like the gang who came with the good-looking one (who got a ride in a limo, early doors) at a night club.  The waste bin is their ultimate destination, wasted, inkless, we all know that.

I am trying not to visit this website too often, in case I inadvertently, or, even, advertently, stray into the fountain pen section.

Oh fountain pens!  They’ve come on quite a lot since they used to empty themselves in your blazer pocket.  This was the wool blazer that got dry cleaned once a year.  Only blue ink was allowed in exams. or, to be precise, for any form of school essay.  Black ink was for teachers, prison officers and, probably, counterfeiters. You could express yourself, though it was not encouraged, by your shade of blue.  One girl had pale blue verging on turquoise, she never married, no one was surprised.

Fountain pens are still noticeable in International Diplomacy.  Whichever residence of the head of government the nice table is situated in, the clusterers around it are brandishing fountain pens.  We have not yet reached the point in history where a thumbprint on an electronic device can change history.  They couldn’t give a signee each the device to take home.  What would they do, email it?  The day will come, underline my words, (0.1mm, fluorescent orange) when someone hands the young signee the fountain pen and he doesn’t know how to work it. To be fair, Ancient Egyptian tomb decorators may have made the same joke about chisels, ‘I hear they’re writing with fish juice on papyrus, Honkinhorn, that’s not going to last, is it?  Pass us the number three pyramid end, could you?’  ‘Here, Battersbyisis, you can’t chisel on grass mate!’  (Both fall about laughing, sideways.)

I wonder who designs presentation pens?  The item has to look incredibly expensive but only be good enough for one go.  They probably segue into it from designing kitchen blenders that say they can chop ice and lawn mowers advertised to be able to do long grass.  And have you noticed with the International Peace Treaty (good till next Tuesday) signing pens, they are never given the box to keep it in.  Years later you could be saying: Yes I have the pen that was used to sign the Treaty of Macclesfield, um, it’s here in this drawer, somewhere.  No it isn’t.  Hang on, it must have rolled to the back, let me just…………oh now, that’s pulled the drawer out.  Oh look! There’s my packet of giant blue paperclips, oh good, I’ve been looking for them.’

So I will endeavour not to stray into the fountain pen section, or special offers and deffo, deffo, deffo NOT limited editions.  Or LAST FEW, Nothing has bigger puppy eyes than a lone pen.

The only thing I love more than writing instruments is writing with writing instruments, though collecting writing instruments comes a close second.

Well, here it is, don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Get a cup of tea first.


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