17: Pencil – Sharpening

I must have used up hundreds of pencils in all this time, from when I was two or three, when my parents or grandparents first gave me pencils and paper to play with. Yet I have no recollection of ever throwing away a pencil stub. I can remember one instance of struggling to sharpen a little stub, because I had foolishly forgotten to bring to class a much-needed replacement pencil. So there I was, at the age of perhaps seven, struggling to put a point on a little bit of pencil that was hardly an inch long. Yet not a single instance of dispos­ing of a useless pencil stub will come to me. So as I gradually sharpen away this mustard-yellow Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth 1500 (8B) that I am us­ing to underline the books I am reading, I am keeping my eye on it, watching as my sharpen­ing reduces it bit by bit. There is some way to go, as I started using it only recently, and it is still a decent length, at perhaps five and a half inches. I am sharp­ening it with a new penknife that I acquired just a day or two ago, a knife I chose online look­ing at the pictures and carefully reading the de­scriptions, selected especially for this single func­tion. From one end folds out the larger clip point blade and the smallest spey blade. These I will reserve for special tasks that may not be pencil-related at all, such as opening packages, or turning plastic bot­tles into useful pots (you can use the opposite end to make a funnel). From the other end of the knife folds out a single, medium-sized sheepsfoot blade, whose straight edge is ideal for sharpening pencils. Trial runs have proved most satisfactory. For the first time ever, I am deter­mined to remain con­scious of my throwing away – perhaps in a couple of weeks – the stub of this Koh-I-Noor pencil.

Perhaps the excitement of starting a new pencil has always been so strong that my memories of having just thrown away a stub could not survive the thrill. I have a 7B ready for the forthcoming event.



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