They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but according to something I just read in a magazine, the art of owning a decent pen is dying out.

Come to think of it, I don’t have much need for one anymore.

I certainly don’t need a pen for what you are reading now, and haven’t in all the years I’ve been writing this column, which is a lot.

Not that word processing devices and software are anything new, but in recent times the pen has come under even greater pressure.

You don’t often need one to fill in forms now, since you can do most of them online, and there are hardly any cheques to write.

I literally can’t remember the last time I sat down and wrote a letter, and although I use diary, it’s on an iPad, which I can also use (and sometimes do) to make notes and lists.

The only time I seem to pick up a pen at home is to do the crossword or scribble a quick note or a reminder to myself when I am sitting at the keyboard in my office.

I am quite likely to take a pen with me when I go out, but only just in case, and I usually either bring it home without using it, or manage to lose it.

For this reason I stopped buying decent pens (as opposed to cheap biros) - because if you take it out it is only a matter of time before you lose it or somebody borrows it and forgets to give it back.

A friend of mine (Simon Webb, who runs the Museum of Computing) makes beautiful pens out of wood, and I often think I should either buy one from him or - better still, since they aren’t cheap - ask my wife to get me one for Christmas.

Being of an age when I am difficult to buy for, I am virtually guaranteed to get a pen if I ask for one.

Despite its declining usefulness, a quality pen is still a cool thing to own, especially as many of Simon’s pens have a story behind them.

For instance, he was recently commissioned to make some pens out of the apple tree that Isaac Newton was sitting under when he discovered gravity.

On a similar theme, there is a significant tree in the Carter family that qualifies for reverential treatment.

It’s an almond tree that stands in the garden of the house we grew up in, which one of my brothers now owns, and he has decided that, sadly, it is finally time for the old tree to literally get the chop.

Both he and another brother own lathes and know how to use them, so they are already preparing to use wood from the tree to make stuff.

But I have also put in a bid for a log or two, so I can make a keepsake out of it, or perhaps it is time to turn it into a pen.

I really don’t think I’ll use it to write with, and I certainly wouldn’t take it out, for fear of losing it, but I could, at least, keep it in a nice box or mount it.

And I could use it to remind me of a favourite family story, about when our Mum told my brother not to tell Dad that she had bought him a pen for Christmas.

“Dad,” he told him, when he arrived home from work, “Mum hasn’t bought you a pen for Christmas.”

So those are my thoughts on pens, even if they are not much to write home about.