It's all their fault. It was Paper Mate who kindled the spark of pen-thusiasm in an impressionable young mind. They were the ones who alerted this pen-thusiast to the idea that the world of pens did not extend only as far as Bic ballpoints or those green Pentel rollerballs (the height of fashion when I was young), and I thank them for it, though my bank manager doesn't!
So how did they do it? They produced a multi pen and what's more sold it in the UK, that's how. I picked this pen up at my local stationery store (sadly long gone) in the late eighties, intrigued by its being both a black ballpoint and a 0.5 pencil at the same time. Yes, at the same time! Imagine my delight when I tried it, it was the first multi pen I'd seen.
Re-discovering my best 'Mate' got me to thinking - I wonder if anybody still makes multi pens? I hadn't seen any for sale in the UK. Some research on the internet lead me to the JetPens website which, I discovered, even had a 'Multi pens' category; I almost didn't dare click the link!
Stop dithering, just calm down and click the link... Wow! A positive Alladin's Cave of multipens in all shapes and sizes, and colours, and colours of ink, and...and...here credit card...here boy...there's a good credit card...
Less than a week later, I was cradling a package from JetPens, shipped to the UK in four days (faster than some UK companies can manage), and containing a replacement for my venerable old Paper Mate - a black-bodied Uni-Ball Signo MF3 2 colour 0.5mm Gel Ink Multi Pen + 0.5mm Pencil. JetPens sells the MF3 here in a variety of body colours and all of them feature a black gel ink pen, red gel ink pen, 0.5mm pencil and an eraser under the end cap, but the best bit, the absolute best bit for a UK pen-thusiast is, not only does JetPens sell refills, they also sell eraser refills for the MF3!
This might not mean much to those outside the UK, but experience has taught me that eraser refills in general (and for multi pens in particular) are the Holy Grail here in the UK - I tried for years to find a replacement eraser for my 'Mate' but, despite scouring stationery stores the length and breadth of the country I couldn't find one, not one, not even another manufacturer's that would fit. Needless to say I stocked up with refills and eraser refills when I placed my order.
So now I have a new favourite multi pen, all thanks to those wonderful people at JetPens. I still have my favourite 'Mate,' but have allowed it to retire gracefully as befits such a venerable old friend.
Postscript: I'm sure there was a sticker on my old multi pen when I bought it and with hindsight I'm kicking myself for having removed it as I can't remember the model number, so if any of my readers can shed any light on the pedigree of my old 'Mate,' please leave me a comment as it's bugging the life out of me! Thanks.