Is it just me, or is it nearly impossible to come across a decent pen that doesn't stop mid flow for no apparent reason? For most, this is an irritating but survivable occurrence, but for the trainee journalist - whose life depends on passing successive shorthand exams - the random ink stoppage is a disaster. 
Since starting on my MA course here, I've chopped and changed between a succession of shorthand pens. Some are just cheap bic biros, but others are the pretentious type that you pick off the shelf from Ryman because of an alluring name, like 'V7 Rollerball Hi-Tecpoint', or 'Papermate Inkjoy'. The Rollerball gets blotchy when the shorthand novice pauses on horrific words like 'guarantee', or 'Richard Pendry - Bafta winner', and the Papermate is good when it works, but that's not very often. 
A couple of weeks ago, I thought all my problems were solved when I found a run-of-the-mill bic biro (medium, of course) in the Drill Hall car park. It was reliable and still had plenty of ink left. But like all many other good things, the good bic biro gets stolen when left on a table, and that's what happened to me. So that was the end of that. 
I then tried a 'Staedtler triplus fineliner' which I found in my drawer, but - like the V7 Rollerball - it went blotchy during pauses. So I decided to try something different, and actually searched for 'good shorthand pen' on Google. I hit upon the 'Pentel Superb Ballpoint Pen 0.7mm', which even had a picture of teeline amidst its Amazon sales pitch. £7.52 for a pack of 12 seemed like a reasonable expense, and so I scrolled through the five star reviews to see what other pen nerds were saying. 
'These pens have been my primary work pen for many years', said one. 'Lovely pens, good ink thickness and blackness', said another. As I hovered over the 'add to basket' button, the real clincher came; confirming my stated belief that all good pens get stolen in the end: 'I 'borrowed' one of these pens from a work colleague and loved it so much I never returned it'. They're arriving tomorrow, and I'm weirdly excited...


I must say I have not had the same trouble with the phrases ‘guarantee’ or ‘Richard Pendry – Bafta winner’. In fact, I find these phrases to be pleasant and agreeable just like their corporeal counterparts. A greater application always ensures unmatched shorthand efficacy in such matters, my fellow biro enthusiasts. 


Eventually, every good biro gets stolen