BBC


Stein, Lamy and two pencil museums (one real, one fake)

Today: another Seen In The Wild blog post, but this time with a twist: at the end there’s some Heard In The Wild…

Stein

The Stein in the title of this blog post is not linked to Stein bei Nürnberg, where Faber-Castell’s headquarter is. The first part of this blog post is about Rick Stein, a famous British TV chef. In his latest BBC series, he explores Mexico. As usual, he writes down recipes. In his series about China, he used a pencil, shown in a previous blog post. This time he used a Lamy Safari (open images in new tab for high resolution).

       

    

(Images © BBC)

Lamy

He’s not the only celebrity using affordable Lamy pens in public: Nick Hewer, from the UK version of The Apprentice does so, too. In reality, people using Lamys in public are a rare sight, at least where I live. I remember seeing someone from a British university (but who is not British) using a Lamy Safari Lime Green Fountain pen at an SAP course I attended in Ireland in 2008. In recent years I have (twice) seen Chinese students using Lamy Safaris at my University/employer. If I add it up I have to say that I’ve only seen Lamys being used three times, in the last ten years, on the British Isles, but all three times the user wasn’t British. Parker on the other hand… if I wanted to count Parkers I’ve seen in the wild, that would be a very high number.

Two Pencil Museums (One Real, One Fake)

Since we were talking Rick Stein and British TV: There seems to be this idea that museums, and most of all pencil museums, are very boring. This seems to be a recurring theme, especially in comedies and sitcoms.

Here’s an animated gif from a very recent episode of a TV show with Johnny Vegas: Home from Home.

(Image © BBC)

In another show of his, Travel Guides (episode Lake District, 2015) from ITV, there’s a conversation spoken in very ridiculing tone:

I can’t believe this is a museum on pencils.
Really.
This is the only pencil museum in the world.
Ha ha ha! No shit.
Back to the BBC. In episode Black Eye of the BBC comedy Coming of Age (2010) there’s even audience laughter to make sure the viewer understands that going to a pencil museum is a ridiculous thing sane people wouldn’t dream off.
Imagine all the lovely places I’ll be able to drive you.
Like the pencil museum! Ooh!
Imagine that, Jas. Pencil museum.
Wow. What a treat(!) (Audience laughs)
Let’s speed things up a bit: Movie Sightseers (2012)
Pencil Museum.
I know how much you wanted to see that(!).
In case you are wondering about the exclamation mark in brackets. In subtitles, at least in the UK, that’s a sign for irony or sarcasm.
..and back to the BBC. Grumpy Old Holidays (2006). Please don’t forget to imagine the ridiculing voice when you read this. The idea is no one would go there unless the weather is horrible.
I have something to do with the weather, I am the rain goddess. They always say to me, “The farmers will be so grateful.” And I say, “Fuck the farmers.”
The Keswick Pencil Museum in Keswick must have, you know, oh, they must
look out of the window every day at the Pencil Museum and go, “Look at that, you can see the isobars “huddling together, we’ve got five days of continuous rain and storms coming- ker-ching!” Because, God bless it, your first port of call on holiday wouldn’t be a pencil museum, would it, normally?
There are hundreds of lovely rainy day attractions and activities like this to immerse yourself in.
It’s not like it’s just pencils. It’s different coloured pencils. It’s different sized pencils. Pencils you can pencil with, even.
Well, I enjoyed my trip to the pencil museum, read more about it in this 2012 blog post. This ‘making fun of the pencil museum’ isn’t new, last year I mentioned an occurrence that happened on BBC radio.

..but now people even invent fake pencil museums to make fun of when they are in a place without a pencil museum. In this case Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. For their Amazon show The Grand Tour they were in Luzern in Switzerland. They need a museum that incorporates boredom while they visit a chess museum so they pretend there’s a pencil museum near Luzern. The point in this episode is that no one would go there, but the museum supposedly has a charging point for Richard Hammond’s electric car, that’s why he keeps dragging them to boring museums.

(Image © W. Chump & Sons / Amazon Studios)

(Image © W. Chump & Sons / Amazon Studios)

Well, let’s end on a positive note: Keith Houston, the author of Shady Characters (2013) had his recent book The Book: A Cover-to-cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time presented as Radio 4’s book of the week. For the next few weeks, you can listen to all episodes online at https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b2hr55.

Well, the BBC is a multifaceted being and while one part makes fun of boring things another one makes fun of boring things as well but supports them. In this case James Ward’s series The Boring Talks. You can find more about James Ward in these previous blog posts.


The image in this blog post has been taken from different sources, as attributed under the images. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Pencils – unsharpened and hyper acute

When looking at pencil points there are all sorts of angles you could sharpen a pencil to.

I guess an angle of 180°, i.e. an unsharpened pencil is as low as you could go – unless you want an angle > 180°.

Here’s a photo of an unsharpened pencil, seen in Season 10 of Inspector Montalbano (Il commissario Montalbano), between the two eraser-tipped Noris pencils. You can see his other pencils in this blog post from 2012. Where they got an unsharpened Noris from is a mystery to me. Maybe they removed the pencil point of a factory sharpened pencil?

Episode: A Delicate Matter (Image © RAI)

On the other hand you have pencil like the ones from Pencil Guide that seem to have an angle of 6.8°1 (for comparison: the KUM Masterpiece has an angle of 15°). They look deadly.

Gunther explains:

If you create a point with an angle of 6.8° (cone angle 3.4°) on a pencil with a diameter of 8 mm you expose the wood at a length of approximately 67.6 mm. This length and the pencil’s length are in a ratio of approx. 1:1.618.

1:1.618 is the golden ration.

Pencil Guide calls itself a pencil sharpening service company, but they only sell sharpened pencils and don’t follow David Rees’ business model.

(Image © Pencilguide.com)


I would like to thank Jun-Haeng Lee for the information about Pencil Guide.

The images in this blog post have been taken from Pencil Guide and from episode A Delicate Matter of the RAI TV series Il commissario Montalbano. I believe that the use of the images shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Thanks to Sola and Gunther I now think the angle might be 6.8°. []

Worst pencil museum / Postcards / Pencil+ 3

There are a few small things I want to mention that all didn’t make it into their own blog posts.

Pencil Museum

Last Sunday Sue Perkins was asking BBC Radio 2 listeners about their worst Sunday activities and gave visiting a pencil museum as an example ? (about 7 minutes into recording I linked to). Well, I enjoyed my visit to the pencil museum very much …and I guess the listeners, too, as none of them mentioned visiting the pencil museum as their worst Sunday activity.

Postcard Campaign

This morning our friend Phoebe Smith, editor of Wanderlust magazine, was on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House programme (about 41 minutes into recording I linked to), having a look at the postcards Radio 4 has received as part of their campaign to revive the use of postcards. I think the postcard campaign is a great idea, especially with the postcard having many friends in the stationery community, such as East…West…Everywhere’s Shangching, Banditapple’s Arnie and many more.

Pencil+

When searching on Google for something rather unrelated this morning I came across Pencil+, an upcoming Kickstarter. I thought I share the link with you, but I don’t have any further information (price, start date, …) and have not been in contact with the people behind the pencil.

Pencil+ (Image © Pencil+)


I believe that the use of pencil+’s image shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


…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.’ []