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Byline: Lynne Barrett-Lee

| ou can never really tell where a fetish might lead, can you? Though accepted wisdom is obviously to a bad place. This is certainly true of one of mine - that of having professional lash extensions which is becoming, I'll admit, financially ruinous.

(Have you tried them? They are compulsive. You wake up in the morning and instead of stumbling to the mirror and trying to avert your gaze from Grim Reality, you catch a glimpse and go 'WOWSER! I look human!') More innocuously, I also have fetish for the little golden ballpoint I picked up while travelling with Pete earlier this year. It's part of a bigger fetish, obviously - for all things stationery-related - and also taps into my general magpie gene. If it glistens (or glisters, or gleams, take your pick) I'm not too worried about the elemental provenance.

And please note, I say "golden" rather than "gold" for good reason. I do not generally do "high end" in objects.

If I had the money, I would obviously blow some of it disgracefully, but on travelling first class and drinking expensive Chablis - not on precious metals, diamonds or designer kit.

So in keeping with my philosophy, my golden pen is made of plastic, but is no less a thing of loveliness for all that.

Perhaps appropriately (since the Hapsbergs knew a thing or two about bling an' that), I bought it in Vienna, in the Belvedere.

It's the sort of grand museum/stately home/manicured park 'n' garden combi that "attracts visitors" (love that notion; like a fly pad in some giant tourist-trappy kitchen) particularly for their collection of art by Gustav Klimt.

Klimt, famously, used lots of gold in his paintings, so come the hour and come the compulsory purchase from the gift shop, there are lots of goldy, Klimt-y souvenirs.

And I am nothing if not a sucker for a museum gift shop. For of all the retail environments it is the one most likely to give intellectual bang for your buck. Yes, that Tate mug's a fiver - twice what you'd pay at Matalan - but once you get it home, it sings out (yes, I do know it's pathetic) that you are person of creativity, cool and taste.

But the little golden ballpoint had another pleasing USP. It wasn't just golden, it was also a Bic Cristal which, as any fool could tell you, meant it was functionally perfect to boot. There is no pen that writes as beautifully yet unpretentiously as a Bic Cristal. It is the best, the very pinnacle of ballpoint pens.

And now I had one with added golden-ness! (You can feel the pen-love, can't you?) So what had been something of an impulse purchase over time became a familiar and cherished friend. But a friend with a life-span that would surely soon reach its end point, leaving me both bereft and also cursing having made the basic schoolboy error of not having bought more in the first place - even if they did retail at three euros a pop.

So I began searching for a replacement, and finally I hit pay dirt. No, I couldn't find any gold ones (not even on the Belvedere website) but what I did find was an unexpected, joyous stock (pause to hyperventilate) of truly sumptuous spangly silver ones.

Which were insanely cheap (as long as you bought 50 and who'd want less, frankly?) and which, en masse, in my pen pot, look stunning.

Call me insane, but I have already fully visualised all the Great Moments Of Creativity they will take their turns to pen.

But then, as happens to the over-enthused enthusiast all too often, I couldn't resist alerting all my friends. I took a photo, which became a post, and then a tweet, which became a retweet, which then did that terribly modern thing of suddenly "going viral", as every stationery addict everywhere in the entire world cottoned on.

"Oh, Lord!" I thought, panicked into wakefulness in the wee hours. "What have I done? All the silvery plastic ballpoints in the universe will be gone!" Which was a very distressing thing to realise at 4am, obviously. So I fired up the iPad and - PHEW! - ordered another 100, and learned a valuable lesson about broadcasting one's fetishes at the same time.

So, no, of course I'm not telling you where they're from.


If it glistens (or glisters, or gleams, take your pick) I'm not too worried about the elemental provenance
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 6, 2012
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