Pencil Toppers

Were you a pencil nibbler?

When you were a kid did you ever nibble the ends of your pencils? My pencil case looked liked Hammy hamster had set up home. I didn’t actually eat the pencils, I just nibbled the tops and spat the splinters onto the floor. It was a bad habit.

High in fibre and low in calories. Good source of Vitamins H&B

High in fibre and low in calories. Good source of Vitamins H&B

At school I’d plunder my classmate’s desks in order to feed my Staedtler HB addiction. The floor around my chair looked like the class gerbils had escaped and were feverishly trying to turn the place into Ye olde world butcher’s shoppe. My teacher was livid. I used to repeatedly stick the point of my compass into the desk and blame the debris on woodworm. But it just made matters worse. Willful destruction of school property.

Take a pencil and an eraser in to the classroom!

A familiar site to every child

Rub a dub dub, now it's a stub.

The most popular pencils were those with a little eraser attached to the top. Quite a clever idea by some crazy inventor I suppose. But it might have looked a lot different if crazy inventors procreated instead of spending all their time in a shed. They could have applied some parental common knowledge. That’s right – kids are idiots. They see no correlation between the size of an eraser and the size of a mistake. And kids make a lot of mistakes, particularly if it means putting that toy on the end of their pencil to good use. There’s probably not a pencil case in the world that contains a pencil with a serviceable eraser. They have all been reduced to pathetic stubs by kids frantically trying to start again at their two page essay. Thank god for compasses. Bollocks to drawing circles with them, they’re only good for levering old stumpy a couple of millimetres out of its brass collar for one more mistake.

Pencil appendages – Good for… fuck all!

Ouch! My hair would stand on end too.

Your hair would stand on end too.

While the eraser cap is at least unobtrusive and provides a modicum amount of usefulness, the same cannot be said of that classic back to school gift – the pencil topper. These brightly coloured lumps of plastic moulded in the shape of a cute animal with a disproportionately large arsehole serve absolutely no purpose at all. Well unless indulging a child’s insatiable appetite for bum jokes is the purpose. Even the numskulls that are still writing with crayons soon tire of colouring with a dead weight on the end of their pencils. Might as well take it off and use it as ammo on the swotty kid at the front of the class.

Not to be outsmarted by kids that have realised pencil garnishing is counter-productive, savvy entrepreneurs have tried hoodwinking kids into adopting decorations that look almost useful. For example, the pencil sharpener topper. But we all know putting a pencil and a sharpener into the hand of a child is like putting a box of matches and a newspaper into the hand of a pyromaniac. It’s not going to take very long before that pencil develops points at both ends and is whittled down to a toothpick.

Nicorette for nibblers

Monkee Davy Jones whips out his maracas

Monkee Davy Jones whips out his maracas

One unintentional feature of the eraser fitted pencils was their effectiveness at curing pencil nibblers of their beaverish habit. In fact they were better at eliminating nibbling than mistakes. So why not market pencil tops as a method of rehabilitating pencil biters? One obvious reason springs to mind. Lawsuits from the parents of hardened nibblers that are consuming 20 brightly coloured pencil tops a day and have ingested so many plastic granules that their PE lessons could be mistaken for a meeting of the Davy Jones appreciation society.

Three Rs – Reading, Writing and Rubbing

Surprisingly it is possible to buy pencil tops that are discrete, functional erasers. Sure they are the poor relatives of the more ostentatious and outlandish eraser caps, but they do exist. In fact they even have one distinct advantage over the original built-ins. When they have rubbed their final mistake a replacement can be easily popped on. Kids have never had it so good. Entire paragraphs can be rubbed away. And not only that but magically the sparkling canvas will be left with a delicious apple or fruity strawberry fragrance!

Smelling mistakes

They always have to go the extra mile and fuck it up don’t they? Are these fragrant pencil toppers to assist blind children pick out the right colour?  Do they help Fido sniff out a pencil case jammed down the side of the couch? Perhaps they remind kids to eat plenty of healthy fruit? Na, like so much of life’s crapola, they exist because the world is bursting with idiots that can’t resist buying gimmicky shit.

So, guess what happens next? You take a brightly coloured, fruity smelling piece of plastic and fit it over the end of a pencil. The object is about the same size as a child’s nostril. You then give it to a child.