Democratic ballpoint pen used throughout the British school system. As you might guess, the pen is made by Staedtler. In my school everyone had one. Teachers used them for marking, we used them for schoolwork. The teacher would distribute them freely from boxes of twenty, like inky cigarettes, kept in the stationery cupboard. Kids would generally have blue, or possibly black if they were lucky, while the teacher would, of course, have red ink. Strange and exotic green models were rumoured, but these were probably Bics.

The first memorable feature of the Staedtler Stick is the name. 'Stick' is a pretty cool way of describing a pen, and pre-empted Sony's Memory Stick by many years. But the word 'stick' isn't half as memorable as the name 'Staedtler', which asolutely no-one - teachers included - knew how to pronounce. Generally, we agreed on the simple 'statler', though some would insist on 'staytler', and there was also an ever-present lunatic fringe who would insist on attempting to include every single letter in their pronounciation, leading to atrocities such as 'stadeteller', which no-one wanted to hear.

The other memorable feature was the lid. It was nicely designed, for sure - angular but smoothed off, chunky and dependable - but the killer feature was the sound the pocket clip made if you held the pen at the other end and bounced it off the edge of your desk. The top was quite springy, so you'd get a very pleasing, rising 'boing' effect. During the sound, you could alter the position of the pen top to actually draw musical notes from it. A solo performance would suffice in annoying a teacher, but a ballpoint orchestra of twenty instruments was on another level entirely.

At the time of writing, a box of fifty sticks will cost you £3.99.

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