Bitch on the Blog

November 3, 2013


Filed under: Roadkill — bitchontheblog @ 11:37
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Sometimes I think I was born to sharpen pencils.




  1. Well, it’s a start.

    Comment by friko — November 3, 2013 @ 11:40 | Reply

    • Yes, Friko, sometimes I wonder what’s more difficult: Start or end?


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 3, 2013 @ 17:33 | Reply

  2. I take it you do not like mechanical pencils. That begs the question, at what length do you deem the poor pencil no longer worthy of its appointed task?

    Comment by Phil — November 3, 2013 @ 12:39 | Reply

    • I always changed the children’s pencils at about 12cm when I was teaching…then cut the remains in half and sharpened them up for use in pairs of compasses.

      Comment by magpie11 — November 3, 2013 @ 16:32 | Reply

      • Now there is a practical approach! I’m also encouraged that the kids are still use a real compass, given all the electronic virtual things available.

        Comment by Phil — November 3, 2013 @ 17:14 | Reply

      • Hold on a second, Magpie: What diameter were those pencils? I have long hung up my compass but with the best will in the world you’d not have been able to insert a Staedtler pencil lead (even if you’d stripped the surrounding wood from the pencil) into one of those fine metal contraptions.


        Comment by bitchontheblog — November 3, 2013 @ 17:19 | Reply

        • Ah! You’re talking about refined drawing instruments…I’m talking school geometry set compasses…. the ones that hold pencils…. I still have a set in a box in the loft, along with prtraxctors , 180 and 360 types, and 30/60 and 45 set sets squares… H pencils too.

          The reason for changing the pencils when they get down to about 12cm is that children must be given the right equipment to write with and pencil stubs do not fill the bill.

          talking of the size of leads for compasses. There used to be an emporium on Drury Lane called His Nibs that dealt in all things to do with writing and calligraphy.. They employed an elderly lady whose speciality was fitting peopelling and similar pencils with the correct size of lead. They had a huge stock of said leads. Shop long since gone the way of all such decent specialist outlets.

          Comment by magpie11 — November 3, 2013 @ 20:08 | Reply

    • Phil, you and your questions! Now I’ve got to get my ruler out. Just hang on a second.

      I’d say once they are beyond, say, 10 cm, my fingers are on the slippery road of diminishing pleasure. Having said that, like Goethe, I am parsimonious when it comes to paper and pencil – and will squeeze the last lead out of them whilst still keeping a wide margin on paper.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 3, 2013 @ 17:11 | Reply

      • Very well, now let’s talk about the erasers – stub on the pencil or a fully dedicated block eraser?

        Comment by Phil — November 3, 2013 @ 17:17 | Reply

        • Stub on pencil, my dear Phil. As you may have expected. A dedicated block being vulgar – and only for nine year olds trying to erase traces of their errors.

          Should you ever feel the need to be generous make mine a box of “STAEDTLER Noris HB” (with rubber tip) also called “The Tiger Pencil” on account of being black and yellow striped.

          The snag with the rubber tip, and I bet my bottom and shortest pencil on this that you will have thought about this, as do I, that the rubber tip usually runs out before the pencil has reached the natural length of its life.

          Looking at my motley collection (on my left) now, don’t I just love them: So loyal, so patient.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — November 3, 2013 @ 17:26 | Reply

          • Well then Ursula, I suppose you should make fewer errors in need of erasure…

            Comment by Phil — November 3, 2013 @ 17:33 | Reply

            • Not so much errors, Phil, more retracing my steps – going over what went on before. Fine tuning Better than white washing, I’d say.


              Comment by bitchontheblog — November 3, 2013 @ 17:47 | Reply

  3. Interesting. I always thought your purpose in life was to lick stamps in the Post Office as a public service.

    Comment by Tom — November 3, 2013 @ 13:28 | Reply

    • Yes, Tom, those were the times. I remember doing a whole mail shot on lick of tip of my tongue. Yummy.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 3, 2013 @ 17:31 | Reply

  4. Thatw as a pointed remark…… do you use a pencil eater or a penknife?

    Comment by magpie11 — November 3, 2013 @ 16:29 | Reply

    • I most certainly do not use a pen knife to sharpen pencils. My grandfather did. As did my great aunt (a portrait painter) when sharpening her pastels. I myself am highly suspicious of knives – though haven’t cut myself in the kitchen for years and years. Shows you that practice makes perfect. Touch wood.

      My pencil eater being (Made in Germany) a tiny little stainless steel contraption. Had it for decades. Being right handed – I hold it in my left whilst rotating the pencil with my right (clockwise).


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 3, 2013 @ 16:59 | Reply

      • Pencil eater – my new term learned for the day. Not in the American lexicon. So much more descriptive than hand-held pencil sharpener.

        Comment by Phil — November 3, 2013 @ 17:19 | Reply

      • Wel, if you rotated it Widdershins ( or widderschynnes) it wouldn’t sharpen…. the wonderful thing about using a penknife (very sharp of course) is that it is entirely possible to sharpen a pencil without reducing its overall length a couple of times before having to reduce the length… the other thin is that you can choose the shape of the lead …… we had Technical Drawing and wood work teachers who taught us to use a chisel for the same purpose…. a 4H pencil always had to have a chisel point in order to draw the finest of lines…. Dave Goman (T D teacher of blessed memory) once demonstrated that you could use a 6H to chip concrete….. I love pencils… absolutely the most ideal of writing implements…and the graphite doesn’t fade…..
        Chefs BTW are either cutters or burners when it comes to injuries.

        Comment by magpie11 — November 9, 2013 @ 12:08 | Reply

        • I am a burner. There was a time I couldn’t take so much as a baking sheet out of the oven without (usually my inside lower arms) being caught. Amazingly not so much as a scar left. Not even one.

          However, cut myself some years ago (was playing a prank – so served me right). New butcher’s knife – finest. It was so sharp I had not even noticed I’d sliced into several of my finger tips till my guests, looking aghast, pointed out that I was bleeding down my dress like a pig. Retreated, Went into shock. For a few minutes. On my own. Can’t stand people watching any of my plights. Still served meal (left hand bandaged up to soak up blood). I have to hand it to them: They ate – Unperturbed. As did I. What else could we do when urged by me to let my efforts not go to waste? Anyway, it was the guest’s of honour birthday. Dear dog in heaven. Still got the scar – left ring finger. There is a significance to it which only I know. And of no importance to anyone.

          To finish off the anecdote: I did rinse the knife and returned it to the shop (Habitat) for a full refund (couldn’t stand the sight of the thing – efficient as it was). Later – such is my feverish imagination – I dreamt up scenario where knife was bought by someone else, butchering someone – detectives finding a micro DNA sample of my identity. Good job Poirot solved crime before DNA entered the crime scene.

          I like your ode to pencils and sharpening them.


          Comment by bitchontheblog — November 9, 2013 @ 13:09 | Reply

  5. …………with your wit

    Comment by finlaygray — November 3, 2013 @ 17:59 | Reply

  6. I was born to click a mouse.

    Comment by nick — November 3, 2013 @ 21:38 | Reply

  7. You are the best writer. Always leave a sharpened pencil after you have finished your work. Some one else may want a sharpened pencil in a hurry.
    The King’s Highway

    Once upon a time, a king had a great highway built for the people who lived in his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to have a contest. He invited his subjects to participate in an open challenge to see who could travel the highway the best, and the winner was to receive a chest of gold.

    On the day of the contest, all the people came. Some of them had fine chariots; some had fine clothing and fancy food to make the trip a luxurious journey. Some wore their sturdiest shoes and ran along the highway on their feet to show their skill. All day they travelled the highway, and each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king about a large pile of rocks and debris that had been left almost blocking the road at one point, and that got in their way and hindered their travel.

    At the end of the day, a lone traveller crossed the finish line warily and walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty, but he addressed the king with great respect and handed him a small chest of gold. He said, “I stopped along the way to clear a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This chest of gold was under it all. Please have it returned to its rightful owner.”

    The king replied, “You are the rightful owner.” “Oh no,” said the traveller, “This is not mine. I’ve never known such money.” “Oh yes,” said the king, “you’ve earned this gold, for you won my contest. He who travels the road best, is he who makes the road better for those who will follow.”

    Remember those words of wisdom as you travel the road of life!

    Comment by rummuser — November 4, 2013 @ 14:19 | Reply

    • I will remember those words of wisdom, Ramana. I will.

      Many a time I have stubbed my toe in the quest. And few stones have been left unturned. Though did DROP one once when I found a nest of baby scorpions underneath it. South of Spain. I was so so so sorry. It was on reflex not intent. Had nightmares and was convinced Mama Scorpion would come after me. Can’t say I’d blamed her.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 4, 2013 @ 19:37 | Reply

  8. Have sandpaper handy to scrape off the black on eraser. Otherwise you’ll get an ugly smear on your paper.

    Comment by bikehikebabe66 — November 4, 2013 @ 17:36 | Reply

    • Spot on, Cynthia. And it’s not just the ugly smear. The weight of a block eraser often resulting in slightly rippled paper. Hate it hate it hate it. Rather rip out the besmirched page and start again.


      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 4, 2013 @ 18:40 | Reply

  9. For such a short post, you got quite a few comments. I really don’t have anything more to add than that. Well, maybe one more thing…aren’t you glad Phil is back in the game?

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — November 4, 2013 @ 18:16 | Reply

    • My dear Lorna, and forgive me for being neglectful of you: Yes, I am always glad when OUR Phil is back in the game, as long as he is not on the game. I wouldn’t know how to pay him. You have to hand it to people working with the written word, don’t you: They can never resist the cheapest of jokes. It’s awful.

      Better go and listen to some opera for my sins,

      Comment by bitchontheblog — November 4, 2013 @ 18:36 | Reply

  10. I think I get the point…

    Comment by charlywalker — November 4, 2013 @ 20:59 | Reply

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