Stationery Junkie

Posted: 13 September, 2008 in Babbles & Rants

I really enjoyed reading this article from Times Online about Stationery Junkie. I can really relate myself to what's being written in the article. I am no writer nor am I a poet but I do write, scribble, doodle in my journals or notebooks I always carry with me. I can spend hours in a stationery store looking at pens, (fountain pens are my favorite), colour pencils, pocket notebooks, notepads, colour papers … even safety scissors. 

So here's the article to share with those with similar interest …

September 7, 2008

Paper chase

The smell of a scented rubber, the romance of a ribboned notebook, the thrill of violet ink – proper stationary has real pulling power

Paperchase stationery

If you’re a remotely tactile person and one who likes to communicate, no gadget in the world will ever replace the sensuous joys of stationery. Your BlackBerry or iBook may be equipped with more useful programs than you know what to do with, but do they make you feel randomly happy? Do they make you look forward to opening your bag and jotting something down? Nope. You can’t stroke them — well, you can, but nothing much happens. You can’t sniff them (and few things are as delicious as the smell of virgin paper). You can’t marvel at the way some clever person decided to beribbon their covers.

Compare and contrast with the orgasmic rush many of us feel just setting foot in Paperchase. Stationery may not come with built-in GPS, but it fills you with a sense of hope and possibility. Think of a beautiful piece of paper that you can’t keep your hands off, or a bottle containing the perfect shade of violet ink (or, mmm, a pot containing old-fashioned glue, of the kind that smells of marzipan). Think of a row of coloured pencils that smell deliciously woody, or HBs that just make you want to draw, and contrast them with the bits of plastic on which we’ve all become so reliant.

Stationery is romantic, poetic, sensual; techy gadgets are anonymous, anodyne, soulless. Writing an e-mail is just something you do, perfunctorily and without much thought. Writing a letter or a card is a careful, considered act, and one that makes the recipient feel as if they’ve received a tiny present. Tragically, letter-writing is a dying art, even when it comes to love letters; it seems people are perfectly content to be wooed by text, these days. Not me: give me the vellum and the ink, and the lined envelope; the calling card and the dates written down in the pigskin diary.

For many women — and a few enlightened men — stationery is the adult equivalent of sweeties. We experience a physical thrill of delight when confronted with piles of diaries, address books, jotters and felt-tips. My own reaction is so extreme that even an ordinary office stationery cupboard can do it for me: there’s nothing in them that I don’t love, from the pristine stacks of photocopier paper to sticky labels and pots of Biros. Give me a proper stationery shop and, well, I’m in heaven.

I’m not alone. I’ve noticed, during my most recent stationery foray — stocking up on pencil-case contents for my children’s new school year — the aisles were full of bored-looking pupils and their rather more enthusiastic mothers, eyes strangely glazed, absent- mindedly stroking an especially nice folder, squealing at the Hello Kitty rubbers (I could write a poem about the scented rubbers of my childhood), lingering in the aisle for far longer than was actually required, occasionally catching each other’s eye with a complicit smile.

It’s partly that these virgin objects hold so much promise: you could write a bestselling novel in the blank notebook with the beautiful cover; you could become an artist, if only you owned that amazing box of pastels. Call me old-fashioned (and, actually, I’m not, being a techno-nerd as well as an old-school paper-lover), but I never get that feeling with Word or Photoshop — they just make me feel harassed and put-upon, time-conscious, forced to perform. My Moleskine notebook, on the other hand, makes me feel creative and free. Just as there is enormous pleasure in holding and thumbing a well-loved book — the kind of pleasure that can, surely, never be matched by reading books electronically — there is something indescribably wonderful about acquiring a new diary and writing the year’s first appointments in it. It is not a pleasure that can be re-created technologically: typing in a date in your online calendar is entirely efficient, but not remotely pleasing, and pulling your little device out of a handbag is nowhere near as enjoyable as hoicking out your beautiful leather-bound diary, with its feathery, azure paper and gilt edges. The other great joy of stationery is that it isn’t expensive.

I personally regard a magnificent diary as a necessary yearly expenditure, and one that will repay me in terms of pleasure on a daily basis, but I know from my trips to stationery shops that a pleasing diary — it’s all to do with the weight of it, the feel of the paper under your fingers — can be scored for less than a tenner. I love heavy, weighty fountain pens with fat nibs, but I’m also obsessed with Pentel Italic pens and with lovely chubby Sharpies. Sometimes, I send people things in Jiffy bags, just for the pleasure of using (and smelling) my red marker pen, which makes everything look festive. I could print out a computerised label, of course, just as I could send Evites instead of bits of card with people’s names carefully Pentelled on, but I’d feel like a robot. Stationery is beautifully human. It is about caring enough to communicate properly, whether it’s with other people or with yourself. It turns quotidian tasks into small, pleasing celebrations. It is wonderful.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

  1. Berisman says:

    My dear friend,You are alone in this love affairs with stationery things..Let's spread the 'disease' around so that more people can enjoy our indulgence;-)