All four one and one four all

Any anecdote that starts with “when I was travelling in India…” should rightly be greeted with a silent eye-roll, but bear with us, this story has four good points. If you’re not a fan of short, whimsical travel stories you can scroll to the bottom for a humorous video about the World Champenships, and where we gently encourage you to buy some lovely pens.


When I was travelling in India in the mid-nineties my bag was stolen during a very hot and very slow train-journey, and at the end of the line I made my way to a tiny rural police station in search of a report for the insurance claim.  My battered Lonely Planet guide advised that a ‘fee’ would probably be required to oil the wheels of justice, and speed up an official report. As the magnificently moustached Constable was carefully documenting the facts of the crime in his beautiful Hindi script, I was mentally preparing a negotiation and trying to calculate the Sterling to Rupee rate. Mid sentence his biro ran out of ink and he flung it in the bin with an expletive to send it on its way.

“You have a pen?” He asked politely.

I rummaged in my bag and produced a fine artist’s felt-tip. He smiled, rolled it in his fingers appreciatively and said, “Unfortunately, this is no good for the report, it will not press through the carbon paper”, indicating the three different coloured sheets required for a report in triplicate.

He carefully put the pen in his shirt pocket, next to two others.

“You have another pen?”

I rummaged again and found my favourite biro. A white-barreled Bic with four different coloured plungers that deployed four different ink colours; red, black, blue and green.  He was deeply impressed, and although he tried to hide his profound interest in this miraculous new technology with calm study - slowly clicking through the four options several times - there was a twinkle of delight in his eyes. A man whose written authority had always been limited to monochrome was now pondering the potential power of technicolour.

He finished the Hindi part of the report in the same blue as he’d started, but then transcribed the Hindi into English, taking care to write each sentence in a different colour. Twenty four sentences, in a prefect rainbow of alternating colours. He signed his name in the final box with a flourish of red, then paused and signed it again in blue. And then in green. And then in black.

He beamed at me, handing me the top sheet for my insurance claim and passed the other two bland black carbon copies to his deputy who laid them in his in-tray with the requisite formality.

I made a good display of reaching for my wallet, but he waved my gesture away with a smile and patted his chest pocket where a new, far more powerful weapon of justice had been safely holstered. I  thanked him, shook his hand and wandered off to catch another train, wondering how much bemusement my report would cause with the good people of the insurance company.

This story doesn’t have a special point except to say that we love four colour Bic biros, and we know from world-weary experience that everybody, all across the globe, loves four colour Bic biros. They make a sensational gift and the grateful recipient will remember the donor forever. So after you’ve watched this frivolous video about the Bic World Champenships, give Georgie and Anna a call and they can put your company’s good name on the finest scribbling sticks known to humanity.  We thank you. Everyone will thank you.

PS: We love them so much, we’ve just bought a barrel-load for ourselves to be used as Purple Patch gifts, but we’ve gone one big step further - we’ve ordered the special ones. Black and red are not for us. We’ve gone for Blue, Green, Pink and of course Purple! Don’t tell me you don’t want them too!