…a Pencil Must Be Lead


After yesterday’s blog post about Britain’s Northern Pen Show, here’s a blog post about Northern British1 pencil humour from yesteryear.

Since we’re going to talk about horses: some horse pencils

Pencil Humour in the 1930s

From the 1930 Laurel and Hardy movie Brats: You can lead a horse to water, but a pencil must be le(a)d.

Pencil Humour in the 2010s

British pencil humour these days is very different. If you want a taste you can watch episode six of the BBC’s Fleabag. I won’t repeat the pencil joke here as it involves a hamster and is rather explicit2.

Fleabag (image © Two Brothers Pictures / BBC)

Another quote from Fleabag then: People make mistakes. It’s why they put rubbers on the ends of pencils.

David Rees Pencil Humour

Since we are talking about pencils and humour anyway: You might have noticed the link to Lifehacker’s Expert Guide To Sharpening Pencils I put on Bleistift’s Facebook page.

The author knows that David Rees’s pencil sharpening is to some extent comedic but looks at all the claims from the point of view of a botanical illustrator – someone who works with graphite and coloured pencils.


The Three Horse Pencils photo is from a previous blog post.

The screenshot has been taken from Fleabag episode six. I believe that the use of the image shown in this blog post, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Stan Laurel grew up in the North of England and in Scotland. As this is his sentence I’m just going to attribute it to him. []
  2. The BBC’s warning for this episode reads ‘Contains strong language and some sexual content.’ []

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