Saturday, 5 November 2011

Faber-Castell Ambition mechanical pencil (stupid and shiny)

I have to admit, I spend stupid amounts of money on stationary. Fountain pens, mechanical pencils - if its shiny and pretty and cool, I want it. (I can always justify another purchase - sometimes I buy several, so I can give some away.)

So, today I regained the use of my Faber-Castell "Ambition" stainless steel mechanical pencil. The damn thing is too pretty for its own good. It's sleek, it's solid metal (I do like a pencil with some heft in the heat of the writing battle), it's German precision engineering. I'm a sucker for German/Swiss/Austrian(Czech) brands - Rotring, Pelikan, Faber-Castell, Koh-I-Noor, Lamy. Bring them on, I never had a bad experience with any of them (not that I could ever afford a Faber-Castell pen before).

So, yeah. I bought it as a "pick me up" at the pen shop in Heathrow when I flew out to Chicago, and it wasn't THAT expensive. I counted it towards my Christmas presents last year. (Yes, I'm justifying spending a small nation's GDP on what's basically a stupidly pretty mechanical PENCIL).

Anyway, as if to punish me for this act of conspicuous consumption, the bleeding thing broke only after a few months. I didn't actually *do* much to it, I wrote a little with it and otherwise kept it in a leather wallet. Hardly extreme sports in the Sahara fending off a rebel insurgency with just a pen for a weapon to block bullets.

Now what makes that pencil so stylish is that a twist of the cap pushes the mine out. Simple, elegant, genius. Until it breaks. Then the genius design falls flat on its bottom: you can't open the thing, you can't jiggle parts around until they fit and work again.

So I had to hand it in to a specialist pen shop (same chain I bought it from in the first place). They sent it to Germany (I assume changing a small broken spring exceeded any British engineering skills that are left in the country?) - which took eight weeks (they must have shipped it by coughing decrepit donkey mail).

Eight weeks and £10 later (which would have bought me 40 plastic mechanical pencils - enough even for this productive writer to stomach some losses), the pen has returned - that is, I picked it up a few hours ago.

It's sitting right next to me, looking stupidly shiny and elegant again, saying "Trust me. I won't break again. It was probably your own fault anyway. Love me again."

But I feel the shine is off. I don't quite trust it. It's let me down before - it might again. What happens if I'm in the middle of a brilliant sentence and the pen breaks again and I'm losing my train of thought? How can I ever trust you again, Faber-Castell, if I have to keep a 25-cents pencil ready whenever I use the "Ambition" to write a sentence, just in case?


  1. Well, that's no more ridiculous, I suppose, than me keeping a pen, just because My Daddy Made It (he did, really, at least the wood outer part) because One Day I may actually get around to asking him a) how to take it apart to put a new ink cartridge in and b) where to get new ink cartridges (not to mention, which ones to get...). This is made ExtraMoreRidiculous by the fact that said pen has been dry for at least 6 years now, and I see my dad roughly 3 times a year, not to mention emailing weekly and comments on FB and the like. It's not like I'm lacking in opportunity, and I luuuurve it so there's motive...I just haven't actually *done* it.

    On the plus side, if it's pretty and shiny enough, you can maybe find a way to justify keeping it solely for decoration, and just use the cheap pencils for "every day wear." :D

  2. *laughs*
    I was getting all hot and bothered by the "writer's implement" the same way I would a firearm as a soldier's tool of the trade...
    But now I'm laughing my ass off over the irony of being distrustful of something named "Ambition" and thinking Marcus Antonius would have a thing or two to say.