A news headline caught my eye a while back. “German man spends 15 years with pencil in head”. I don’t know why, but it intrigued me somewhat. It was a bit ambiguous to say the least. I mean, was it by choice? Was this the David Blaine of Münchengladbach? Was it even his head? I suppose that’s what headlines (excuse the pun) are supposed to do. They dangle a bit of a story in the hope that you will be intrigued enough to read on. I was, and I did.

It turns out that the man, a twenty four year old from Aachen, had gone to hospital after suffering headaches, loss of vision in one eye and a stream of constant sniffles. No doubt he asked if they could do something about his Aachen head. A quick brain scan and the doctors informed him that he had a four inch pencil stuck up his nose. It was lodged between his sinus and his pharynx and has caused damaged to his right eye socket.

The guy said that his memory of how it got there was a bit sketchy. He did however remember that he “once fell badly as a child” What?!? Fell badly? How badly do you have to fall to finish up with a pencil up your nose and not know about it? How does a four inch pencil go up your nose without drawing blood? The end result was that the doctors outlined the alternatives and after a brief operation, the pencil was withdrawn. He has since recovered.

A bit of research and I soon found out that six years ago a German woman, plagued by headaches went to hospital and the resulting scan showed that she had a pencil stuck in her head also. This one had been there for fifty years. She had fallen when she was a four year old and her pencil had “disappeared into her head”. The end result here was not so successful. Surgeons had managed to remove most of it, but the tip and grown into her brain and doctors couldn’t remove it all.

What is it with Germans and pencils? Are they not trained in how to use them properly? More intriguingly do they not realise that if a pencil disappears into your head, it is not necessarily the best approach to leave it there for decades to see what happens?

I think it’s time for a new labelling system for Teutonic pencils. Clearly HB F and H is not enough, it’s time for unheaded!