Sunday 8 May 2022. Afternoon

Using my old mechanical pencil for the first time in years. I bought it at the very high price of 87 SEK in 2002. My old school friend Sofia Eriksson was shocked that I spent so much money on a pencil, but I was thinking that I’d keep it forever. And I used it for the rest of my educational years, including at university, and I’ve used it since for my creative writing. But now, for the last few years, a piece of refillable 0.7mm lead has been stuck inside my 0.5mm pencil. I’ve tried pushing it through from the outside, and by putting another 0.5 lead piece in. Nothing has worked, until today when I managed to take it apart and remove the offending lead. Then I could put a 0.5 piece in, and finally use it to write. It’s a great victory. Particularly as I remember the defeat that led me to buy this expensive 0.5 mechanical pencil in the first place.

I used to have a black 0.7 mechanical, which served me faithfully for a number of years, before suddenly something broke and the mechanism that brought forward fresh lead stopped working. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it, so I took the patient to the best doctor in the house: my younger sister. With her small hands, good eyes and knack for the teeny-tiny, she was the only one who could cure it.

With bated breath I watched her take the apparatus apart, and start to fiddle with the different bits. Looking at the intestines of a pencil for the first time in her life and declared ‘Oh yeah. I’ll fix this for you, 100%’. She blew some air on the pieces and put them back together. It didn’t work. She wrinkled her forehead and said: ‘Okay, maybe more like 98%’. I felt like my pencil’s condition was worsening before my eyes. My sister dismantled the pencil again, took a deep sigh and said maybe it was more like 97,8% chance of success now. I clenched my teeth and closed my hands into fists. After some more looking at the pieces and putting them back together without success, she declared we were down to a 92% chance, at which point I knew the game was up. No sane person would go through any further effort with odds that low!

We were clearly young and blissfully ignorant about grey scales, despite what we were trying to save was device of granite lead. After the mourning period and the bin burial, I went and bought this green 0.5 one for that expensive money. So managing to save it today, 20 years later, is very satisfying indeed.

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