Back to School?

by Scribble Monboddo

It's that time again, when bright-eyed young things head off for another year at the chalkface - although no-one actually uses chalk any more, of course. But plenty of other tried and tested stationery still has a place in the school-bag - and us nominal grown-ups can help.

Now, let's get the bad news out of the way first; there's not much call for paper. Generally schools like to exercise control over exercise books. But there's still fun to be had with the writing implements.

Starting early on in the school career, everyone needs a trusty pencil. If the pupil you aim to assist wants a bullet-proof HB in garb which looks a cut above the rest, you could do a lot worse than the Viking Skjoldungen. Crazy name, but a terrifically sensible proposition for the rigours of the classroom.

Alternatively, if you fancy an absolute steal you could do a lot worse than the pencil which your humble correspondent learned to write with, now available in nicely soft 2B for a ludicrously low 50p - yes, the Staedtler Tradition is just the ticket... and you never know where it might lead (forgive the pun).

For older students practising for multiple choice exams, the Musgrave Test Scoring pencil is literally designed for just that - but doubles as a sketching pencil remarkably well, again for very reasonable money.

Hopefully, all that graphite-sharpening will in due course earn a pen licence, and then the serious fun begins. Obviously they'll need a fountain pen, right? For an early writer still working on correct grip, you can do a lot worse than the sturdy and reliable Lamy Safari - and if disaster occurs, it's not so expensive as to make replacement an agonising business.

For pupils persistently posing pocket pen preferences, obviously a Kaweco Sport is called for - perhaps one in a classic colour with few imitators. It will even take standard short international cartridges, so it's economical to drive too. But do remind the lucky recipient not to panic if the resulting writing is less than immediately calligraphic; plenty of us are still learning, years later!