The big question - How many pencils does one person need?

Marianne Gibbs is pondering pencils - has she got too many?

Marianne Gibbs is pondering pencils - has she got too many? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Frank Skinner is the host of Room 101 one of my favourite television programmes.

Marianne Gibbs who has set up a recycling bank specifically for women to donate their old bras to be

Marianne Gibbs who has set up a recycling bank specifically for women to donate their old bras to be recycled.Its been set up at Brundall Memorial Hall in the ladies toilets.Picture: James BassCopy: Tracey GrayFor: EN NewsEvening News © 2009 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Evening News © 2009

A few weeks ago he was talking about growing older and how he came to realise that he was now well on his way to becoming an older person, because all his life he has been a lover of pencils preferring to write with them instead of pens.

Every time he visited a new town he would look for a stationary shop and buy him-self some new pencils as a treat, in the same way that some holiday makers buy themselves a new mug for every place they've visited.

One day he was walking down the high street of his hometown and as was his practice looked in the window of his local stationary shop.

There, in the centre of the window, was a display of some new stylish pencils.

He felt the usual flutter of butterflies as he anticipated walking into the shop to buy some, but then a little voice inside him said, 'Actually, if you never bought another pencil, you've probably got enough to see you out.'

This was the point at which he realised he was heading for the exit door of life.

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Hearing this tale made me think about my own pencil stash.

Apart from a box of coloured pencils bought to go with one of those trendy adult colouring books I fancied having a go at, (by the way, I only ever coloured in the first page before getting bored), I don't think I've ever bought a pencil, yet I have quite a few, so I decided to gather them all up and do a count.

I stopped at 100 - most of them have never been used.

Where did they all come from? I hear you ask.

Well, over my working life I've attended lots of conferences, stayed in dozens of hotels and had many business meetings.

At all of these places pencils were on offer as the standard gift.

I always took one home thinking my son could make use of them for school.

He's 44 now so I should have stopped acquiring them long ago, but it was a habit I didn't realise I had.

Pencils are useful you see - so to me they are never clutter, except they are if you have too many, just like anything else you've got too much of, but here is the dilemma, have I got enough to see me out?

Do I work on the assumption I've got another 20 years and divvy them up so I use five a year with a few left over just in case I don't snuff it at 92 after all?

Five pencils a year are probably too many; two a year would be about right so that means I would have to live another 40 years just to use my pencils up, that's an awful long time to live just to get the use out of a few pencils.

I think I'd better give a few away - but they are all different so I don't really want to part with them in one go.

What to do? Just had a brilliant idea! Why not find another use for them?

How about I put them in flowerpots to use as mini stakes for plants?

Knowing my luck they'd all root and I'd finish up with more pencils, not fewer.

No – what I will do is put a few in the bottom of my handbag and while I'm out and about I shall hand them out to random strangers – hopefully I won't be arrested.