I thought I would tell you the sad tale of Bob’s Fancy Pen. This was the gift awarded to me on the day I retired. It’s a Shaeffer Pen engraved ‘Bob’s Fancy Pen’. Dr X almost forgot to give it to me. I remember thinking – well I suppose they paid for the night out the previous night when I was presented with my Princess Elizabeth OO model steam engine by the staff (still a highlight on my layout) perhaps that was it. I’d better leave now. My fuddle was attended by a number of strangers (community nurses) I’d never seen before. If there’s cake, they’ll be there! As I was leaving the building, the surgery roof sprang a leak onto the treatment and consulting room floors and someone tried to get me to deal with it. But I stood my ground, in fact, held my water (Well actually, I didn’t) and left the building, in true Elvis style, as quickly as possible after 13 years residency, clutching my new ‘fancy’ pen. I think the building was crying because I was leaving, hence the leaks. We had just finished a major extension and I had a new office, which I had hardly used. My successor eventually moved back to my old office.

July 2011

Over the weeks and months, I studied the pen and wondered as you do how much it had cost. I’d have preferred an iPad. My research suggested that the cost varied from £30 to £200. I will never know, but I have to say mean bugger that I am I was disappointed. The Pen started to get its own back on me and continually disappeared. After a year had passed by, I eventually found it in a rarely used sports jacket. It had run out of ink or should that be the ink ran out of it leaving irremovable marks in the lining of on inside jacket pocket. The pen was resigned in disgrace to a small drawer in my bureau.

July 2013/2014

Two years later, I took the errant pen to our holiday home and again it kept disappearing. Once again, after much searching in the marsh, it was found in a bedroom drawer a year later looking sad and forlorn. It had no ink as the cartridge was dry. I used my ‘old biddy’ bus pass to ride to Kendal where I bought some refills from a specialist pen shop and after that I tried to keep track of it. It came home a few winters ago and since then it has not been seen until today (July 2017) Found again, it was sitting in a drawer at the back of the bureau without refill. No ink today. I had not replaced the refill. It was hidden under our passports. Perhaps it was jealous of our trips abroad to Florida, Canada and Cuba. It didn’t come.

July 2015

Another year goes by, and Yes, you got it in one – it has been found again last reported missing in July last year! Found again with our passports in a secret drawer. Still works, ink still flows. What would you like when you retire? A gold watch (got one). A candelabra for my piano – no piano. What about a pen – it will come in useful. I’m left handed and my wrist now aches if I write. I rarely sign my name these days as contactless reigns. So why on earth did I get an embossed pen. It’s rather small too (five and a half inches) and chubby so it is difficult to hold. I would have preferred an iPad.

May 2018

This year I took sympathy with the ‘fxxxy’ pen and gave it a treat. It travelled to St Petersburg by cruise liner and helped me keep a diary of our travels. Strangely there is a new skyscraper, the Lakhta Centre overlooking the World Cup Stadium that is oddly reminiscent of my pen. I wonder whether my pen has stayed there! The tower is not finished and needed topping out.

The moral of the story is if you fancy something don’t let it ‘bob’ about, hang on to it and always find you’re cheese.

How long was it before you started to smile?

Robert Campbell

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Robert Campbell

By Robert Campbell
Robert Campbell

Started work writing medical cards in 1966 at Staffordshire Executive Council. Have worked at Inner London Executive Council, Hertfordshire Executive Council, Lambeth Southwark and Lewisham FPC, Birmingham FPC, Dudley FPC and Wakefield FPC and Family Health Services Authority. I was seconded to the NHS Appeals Unit and have worked as a full time GP practice manager since 1992 until 2010. I was also an AMSPAR trainer at Park Lane College, Leeds. Now I work as a freelance author.


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