Pen or pencil?

I use a pen. I know, I really shouldn’t. My mum uses one of those special
pens with a little rubber on top, in case of little accidents. Many use a

For me a pencil is joyless. The friction of graphite onto fresh newsprint
leaves me cold. The grey of tedium, of leaden skies, of duty.

But a standard ballpoint? Now you’re talking. In fact, I think I get a
little turned on by the effortless glide of the black – always black –
instrument (I shall refrain from using the word ‘tool’).

All my workings and scribbles adorn the designated spaces beside the grid:
the rings of to-be-rearranged potential anagram characters, the long phrases
by which I check the mechanics of a complex charade or some such; the
occasional oaths spat upon the page to clear the frenzied mind.

And all this leaves a glorious grid into which I can meticulously inscribe
the solutions – only when I am absolutely sure they are correct.

And the joy of filling in that last elusive entry. It is done. I may not be
able to solve all the clues life presents to me, nor even when I have
cracked them am I sure I’ve solved them as they were meant to be solved.

But here, in my crossword, I know. Here is an oasis of certainty. And am I
feeling a little smug? You betcha!

Best wishes,

John (Paul)


3 responses to “Pen or pencil?

  1. Hands down my favourite crossword pen: – Thick enough for the Times, thin enough for the FT and just about right for the Guardian. imho.

  2. georgethebastard

    I do a lot of solving crosswords in public or semi-public places and it always tickles me when people comment on me solving with a pen… on a grid I’ve clearly printed out at home. Erasers are more expensive and less reliable than printing out another sheet. Now if it came down to having to buy another newspaper every time I made a mistake, I might reconsider the pencil.

    Love your columns, by the way, going to add them to my list of rarely-clicked links.

  3. My Dad does the Guardian quick crossword with a pencil. He has often asked how I can I possibly do the cryptic with a pen. I tell him there are actually two clues, but he maintains my answers remain uncertain. My real problem is right answer wrong grid position!

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