No, you sweetly predictable thing. It’s not a Montblanc. It’s certainly not a Montblanc and Van Cleef & Arpels Limited Edition Mystery Masterpiece, which makes $730,000 of diamonds and rubies look like a Meatloaf album cover design. Cast off your brand blindness, sir; forget the notorious name. These monogrammed monsters appeal solely to wannabe Winners and Weinsteins; grasping a Montblanc’s fat, stubby, money-cumbrous barrel feels comfortingly like clenching the digits of a be-ringed media mogul’s hand. The time comes, young man, to put daddy down; and that heavy a weight of expectation in your hand will certainly dry up your ink.
Nor can the perfect pen be born of a brand that sounds like a Poirot villain; the Schaeffers and Staedtlers, Pelikans and Parkers, have overmuch earnestness and pomp. Staid and scratchy, in maroon and hunter green, they promise a life of cardigans, custard creams and cat hair, and call out for letters of complaint, sent on headed notepaper, full of carefully calligraphed rage.
It’s not determinedly decorative. It’s not historical. Anything that resembles a feather, a reed, or the horn of a unicorn’s foal, is not it. If you’ve ever bought a hand-blown glass spiral the colour of boiled sweets from a boutique on the banks of the Arno – invariably, in the hope that it will make you look like either Machiavelli or Lucy Honeychurch – and tried to write with it, you’ll agree.
It is, however, most definitely a fountain. Whatever cult appeal clings to those blankly adaptable, Perspex and rubber clad, disposable supermodels of the writing world – of which the Pilot V5 is the skinny Givenchy queen – such free and easy creatures do not a lifelong companion make.
Write this down. If you really want to put the style back into stylus and the pleasure back into your prose, find a Lamy Safari in Lamborghini yellow. Elegantly contoured, reassuringly tough and sublimely simple, this modern classic has all the characteristics of the perfect pen (and, in a happy coincidence, the perfect man). It’s the escritorial version of the Duralex Picardie glass, that 1920s design icon of beautifully functional form. Born in 1980, the Safari is part plasticky, pop art Warhol, part louche, lissom Waugh, and it writes with the smooth, quivering, creamy ease of Nigella in a pannacotta bath. Slot in a cartridge of purple ink, slide some sweet-smelling foolscap in your Belstaff satchel, and you feel like Hunter S Thompson by way of Oscar Wilde.
Which is a very fine feeling indeed.