Monday, 21 March 2011

Shared Fetish

How do I manage to do it time, after time, after time? Here I am again running rings round myself in order to try and catch up with everything that needs to be prepared for this week. Actually, I know why it's happened this time. I was involved last week in the appointment of a very senior academic position (which I would love to gossip about, but to do so would definitely be unprofessional) and I underestimated just how much time and energy it was going to take. So, here I am battling away to finish a lecture on the relationship between The Taming of the Shrew and The Taming of a Shrew and read David Nicholls' novel, One Day, both of which I need for meetings on Wednesday.

Fortunately, the Nicholls is hardly the most demanding of works, in fact I'm not certain how we are going to sustain an hour and a half's discussion on it. It's taking time, but not much brain power. And, every now and again it makes me smile in recognition of something that strikes a chord in me, like this.

[Emma] drinks pints of coffee and writes little observations and ideas for stories with her best fountain pen on the linen-white pages of expensive notebooks. Sometimes, when it is going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationery. The true writer, the born writer, will scribble words on scraps of litter, the back of a bus ticket, the wall of a cell. Emma is lost on anything less than 120gsm.

If there is such a thing as a fetish for stationery then I definitely share it. I love the feel of a clean sheet of paper that has still to be marked in anyway. I can get tingles up and down the back of my spine just remembering the thrill of having a new exercise book at school, a book that has, as yet, not even been sullied by so much as a ruled margin. Friends buy me notebooks as presents because they know I will go all gooey-eyed and drool my incoherent thanks as I imagine all the world shattering observations I will record in them.  I don't, any longer, hanker after the 'best fountain pen' because I learned a long time ago that the surest way to defile a beautiful sheet of paper was to turn me loose anywhere near it with real ink. But it does have to be a very particular make of biro and always, always a fine nib and black ink.

And, do you know what? I reckon I'm not alone in the blogging world in sharing Emma's fetish. I suspect that there are a lot of closet stationery obsessives out there right now. Have the courage to come out and admit your addiction and we can form a blogging branch of stationery fetishers anonymous. Just as long as no one ever really tries to wean me away from my notebooks, pens and rulers that is. This is a fetish I'm actually happy to claim as my own.



  1. I admit it, I am a total stationary obsessive. I have to steer myself away from Paperchase and such places because of the notebooks, and writing paper, and cards, and... Its all too much, I love it.

  2. Don't even mention Paperchase, Leah. It should have a warning beeper that goes off every time I step over the threshold so that they can throw me out before I spend a fortune there. Mind you, I suppose they quite like the fact that repeatedly spend fortunes!

  3. I love stationary too. When I used to work in an office I would avidly read the stationary catalogue on my break. I think my co-workers thought that a bit weird.

  4. Hello Annie,

    I used to love the start of the school term, when all the new exercise books were handed out and was mortified if a teacher dared to defile a page or margin with the dreaded red pen.

    At junior school, we had an English teacher, whose lessons have stayed with me all my life. Letters were to be of equal size and fit a certain way within the confines of the ruled paper. There should be no crossings out and the pages should never be smudged or sullied in any way. Even now, my writing is commented on for being neat and I am still friends with that fantastic schoolteacher, who is now in his late seventies.

    I make copious notes, when I prepare to write a post for my blog and get quite annoyed when, if I try to get my thoughts down on paper too quickly, my writing gets a little out of control.

    I love to start a new note book, the look and feel of those pristine pages (it has to be white paper), still gives me a thrill!


  5. Your post took me straight back to a branch of the shop that must not be mentioned in Tottenham Court Road. It was just five minutes walk from my office so I spent many happy hours there, and I did my bit to help their profitability over the years. Cornwall is not quite so good for stationers, but I manage. I do wonder though if there will be the same love in future generations who have grown up with more gadgets. Maybe stationary loving will become a cult ...

  6. I hope your busy week goes well! I have to admit that I'm a write-on-whatever-is-handy type of person. Stationery is nice but not an obsession. If only that made me a real writer :)

  7. I have a few beautiful notebooks - so beautiful that I'm scared to write in them as I know I'd spoil them. I have to stop myself from buying any more.

  8. Joanne, believe me, there are worse things to be thought weird about than one's stationery fetish!

    Yvonne, this is why I don't use a fountain pen because I always make a mess and then I hate myself for having marred something so beautiful/

    Fleur, I know THAT shop. Why do you think I always used to walk from Euston down to the South Bank whenever I went to the theatre?

    Thanks Dorothy. Believe me, I write on anything and everything. I'm particularly fond of the back of a used envelope. But, there is something so special about a new notebook.

    Margaret, I have too many notebooks that have been spur of the moment buys, but I'm not certain I could be disciplined enough to take a vow never to buy another.

  9. Absolutely. I have a little box in my cupboard of lovely notebooks given to me by friends who know my fetish ... and I have two friends with whom I share my fetish. I also like pens ... though not all work as well as I would like them too. For me it tends to be medium point and blue, but I can like a some fine points and sometimes I hanker for green. I stuck with fountain pens for a long time but too messy these days.

    Oh, and I too have notebooks I'm too scared to write on ... I keep waiting for the pearls of wisdom that would be worth to write there but they are a long time coming.

  10. WG, I'm glad I'm not the only one who is scared to write in the really beautiful books. I think there are some out there which are meant to be objects to admire rather than books to be used.

  11. Stationery and fountain pen fetish here. I have more notebooks than I know what to do with and about two years ago I discovered some lucious French paper for letters that love fountain pens. I have about half a dozen fountain pens and probably about 20 bottles of various ink colors. And I still long for more paper and lust after a Mont Blanc mini Mozart fountain pen.

  12. Thanks for outing yourself, Stefanie. Join the group. Perhaps we should start a Stationery fanatic Anonymous, except, I don't know about you, but I'm not ready to give up my addiction yet.

  13. Should we come up with a 12 step programme? Perhaps:
    1. We admit we can't pass a new notebook without wanting it
    2. We admit we covet our neighbour's highlighter
    3. We recognise that the great Stationer in the Sky has us in her thrall
    yada yada yada ...

  14. Some might say that I definitely need a 12 step programme WG but I'm not yet ready to admit that I have a problem and isn't that the first step you have to take?