In the last twenty-four hours, I have had two chance encounters with free stationery.

Firstly, last night, I found myself in Brixton with a bit of time to kill as I waited for someone. I wandered into the branch of Argos by the station and was amazed when I spotted this:

It’s an Ikea pencil! In Argos! I swear I didn’t plant it there, it was there when I went in. But now I wonder, have I started a trend? It was quite a grubby pencil, and the lead was broken. It looked quite sad to be honest. Poor Ikea pencil, separated from all his chums and forced into slavery in Argos.

And then this morning, as I walked to work, I noticed something in the street outside the Ladbrokes on the corner of Great Portland Street and Margaret Street:

A couple of people had mentioned the pens used in bookmakers when I first started talking about free stationery, and I meant to investigate, but those pens didn’t seem nearly as iconic as either the Ikea pencil or the Argos pen. But, as I looked more closely at this red pen lying in the street, one thing became obvious.

It’s the same pen! One is red and one is blue, obviously, but they’re the same pen! I’m not sure if this revelation will help me in my quest to discover how many blue ballpoint pens are used in Argos stores every year, but I think I should try to speak to someone at Ladbrokes about this.

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