I was having lunch in Costa Coffee today, when the lady on the next table -- a complete stranger -- asked me to lend her a pen. I lent her one, and she set about filling in an eight- or ten-page application form. I decided that I would ask for the pen back if I had to leave for work before she'd finished. In the event, I didn't have to ask.
Allow me to blog a poem that I wrote some years ago on the subject of lent pens. It was published in Popshot 1 (2009), p. 34, with an accompanying illustration by Matt Dent. The poem's title draws on a squib by the nineteenth-century judge Charles Bowen:
The rain it raineth on the just
And also on the unjust fella;
But chiefly on the just, because
The unjust steals the just's umbrella.
THE JUST'S UMBRELLA
Redistribution of the air
means weather-frights and asthma, true,
too much air or too sick, but few
complain they do not get their share.
Redistribution of the cup
means visible hands' work. Someone
must drive cup, saucer, plate and spoon
across the node of washing up.
But will you please give back again
that borrowed biro, mine, not yours,
seeing nor gales nor nodes will cause
redistribution of the pen.