The new session looms ahead. An expectant teacher gets ready. Things to do: lessons to plan, classrooms to tidy, textbooks to find, mugs to give their annual washing... but most important of all: get the new pens in.
Oh yes, it's a real beginner's mistake to think you can just get away with your basic red Bic - what do you think you are, a PE teacher? Oh no, no sir. Pupils note everything. And the pens we use say so much about us. Are you cheap? Colourful? Smooth? Retractable?
After careful scientific testing I've come down in favour of the classic Pilot series of pens (.03 in particular) as being ideal for diagrams etc on worksheets, but damn and blast, they don't make 'em in any other colour but black. The search for a decent red pen continues... "I will find you!", as Daniel Day-Lewis emotes in The Last of the Mohicans, though I don't think he was talking about Staedtler and Rotring.
You'll note I say "red" specifically... well, yeah, call me a traditionalist, but for good old ticks and crosses, you can't beat a bit of the old scarlet. It's like an unspoken rule. I mean, yes, green ink's OK at a stretch, but venture beyond those two colours and you run the risk of being called a rebel. And as for purple, scented jobs - och no, that'll never do.
Come to think of it, you'd think stationery shops would make special teacher packs of pens, wouldn't you? They could call them something cool, like, er... the Pilot Chartered Teacher 2000 (with interchangeable CPD nibs). They could have pen reviews in the Times Educational Supplement - and adverts too, with teacher testimonials: "I stayed up all night to finish marking and the Uniball Steady-tick didn't let me down once", says Senga McHaggis of St Jonquil's School for Young Conservatives. Or: "When I mark a sum wrong with the Pentel Punisher, it stays wrong!" says Bob McBob of the Bob Robert School for Bobs.
I'll stop now and lie down. Or go and watch Julie Walters, who's busy doing a "don-key!!!" Shrek accent on ITV in a teacher drama. It really could go either way.