This is the kind of question I get a lot. I know. It isn’t the best questions to ask on a Saturday, but I think it is a useful question.
I thought an old-fashioned pencil, one shaped like a pencil, could be good.
The other day someone sent me a soft, yellow pencil, made of hard paper with a hollow point.
How does it feel to write with it? Do I have to be very careful? I asked. I’d never done that before. The other pencil I was handed was a soft grey-brown and the point was sharp and well-lubricated.
Then I asked, if I were not careful I’d end up getting a big bruise (no pun intended).
The person who sent me was careful, the kind who says to use common sense. He asked if the ink would be red or green.
‘Green,’ I answered.
‘Great!’ he said. ‘And that means it’s waterproof.’
I’m not so sure. If I had an eraser I’d ask the same.
I’ve never had an eraser – it doesn’t stick, never touches my paper. I’ve always written with paper pens, but when I was a child I also wrote on charcoal and with a pocket knife.
I was also always taught to be careful with the pencil. My teacher would let me have a pencil for free if I could find one. She would then send me to the toilet to check that my hand was clean – just in case she wanted to clean it for real.
A pencil and a mirror
But most of us have no such luxury. We can’t buy one, so we never had to be careful anyway. I asked someone recently how a person should write, on an eraser, in a mirror, if one were going to be written on.
‘Never,’ I was told. ‘Especially not with a hard eraser.’
And it has nothing to do with using an eraser. I was told that when a pencil gets wet, it stops making a sound. You can hear it in the water. You can hear it in a mirror. But a dry eraser doesn’t make a sound.
And I never knew that writing on a dry eraser used to be a bad habit.
In the early 1600s, an early English writer was asked why he didn’t write in a fountain
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