10 June

The Biro's birthday

The Last Word cocktail

So we are drinking...

The Last Word cocktail

Back in the days of print magazines and mail by post, there was a company of lawyers whose role was to write to magazines that had inadvertently used the term "biro" to refer to - well, a "Biro" - and inform them that the word was trademarked, and what they really meant was "a ballpoint pen".

Once again, we apologise unreservedly for using "biro". And dear lawyers, we're still flattered that you read our rag in the first place.

And today is the day when that all began.

Working as a journalist in Hungary, Bíró László József, noticed that newspaper ink, in contrast to fountain pen ink, dried quickly and smudge-free. Finding that the same ink was too thick to flow into the tip in a fountain pen, he worked with his brother to develop a rolling ball in a socket that would pick up ink from a cartridge and then roll it on to paper.

During the war, the brothers who were Hungarian Jews, fled to Argentina where on this day in 1943 they filed a patent and formed Biro Pens of Argentina. Their new pen was licensed for production in the UK for supply to Royal Air Force aircrew, who found that the pens worked better at altitude than fountain pens.

It was Marcel Bich, of Bic, who perfected the design, transforming the concept into the classic Bic Crystal, well over a hundred billion of which have been sold since they were first produced, and hundreds of millions of which have undoubtedly dropped down the sofa.

And what do all those Biros do? They write words, so today we're drinking to both Bich and Bíró, and those so very diligent lawyers, with an aptly named Last Word cocktail.

It's also Alcoholics Anonymous (Founders) Day

On this day in 1935, Doctor Bob Holbrook Smith, a surgeon from Akron, Ohio, took his last drink - a bottle of beer to steady his hand before surgery. And AA members around the world will be marking that occasion with a nice cup of tea. Or possibly juice. Or maybe, even, coffee or energy drinks.

For Doctor Bob, with Bill W, created Alcoholics Anonymous, a sometimes controversial group that has transformed the treatment of alcoholics and alcoholism around the world. They were the first to conceptualise alcoholism as an addiction or disease, rather than a moral failing or weakness. And their practice of supporting each other through sobriety led to the original Twelve Step treatment, a method now favoured by starlets around the world.

In honour of Doctor Bob, Bill W, and all the others out there who have had to stop, we are recommending Mint Limeade, which is about as good as virgin cocktails get.

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