Pencils are a journo’s best friend.

Professional pencils.
Professional pencils.

I scribble frantic shorthand as the witness shouts at me quickly as the hail that splatters my flimsy reporter’s notebook and he just wants to get inside and dry and warm and stop talking to me.

The camera doesn’t register the new battery; I do a quick sketch with a sneaky observation and a bit of talent of that crucial detail that will completely change the story, to jog my memory later when I have the leisure to describe it more accurately.

My pen runs out of ink in the middle of the NCTJ shorthand exam (mock). As soon as I picked up a pencil I was neater, quicker and better. I passed the real exam at 100 words per minute.

A pencil saved me every time.

But if you’re going to throw it around your bag or run with it in your pocket and write frantically and sharpen it constantly, you need one that won’t snap and can shade well for those sketches.

For me, the distinctive striped HB Steadtler pencil is what I associate with childhood play time and art time and can’t-write-in-pen-yet time.

Don’t accept anything less.

Unless there’s those ones with the fluffy feathers, or animal erasers on the end. Yeah, I’m a sucker for those.