There are some obsessions from childhood that as an adult, who should know better, stick with you and in some cases worsen and become more and more consuming. I have three such obsessions/addictions. Books, Jelly Belly and stationery – and I want lots of all of them, much to the ill health of my bank account. There is that not-so-subconcious part of my brain that says ‘you’re an adult now, so you can indulge’ and so I do, and have done to quite an extent.
Some of Simon’s Stationery
Before you think ‘what a grown up spoilt brat’, I was not from a family who could afford to buy anything I wanted at the drop of a hat. I was allowed a new pencil case, and its contents, every September in time for the new school year. Even when Amy Bennett (yes, the name is etched on my brain – I wonder what happened to her) cut the zip on my favourite spider pencil case in a science lesson in Year 7 I had to wait several weeks to get a new replacement and in the end had to make do with an old one. Something I still clearly have yet to get over the rage of. Yet it was before school, and the annual trip to Woolies or WHSmith, which invariably involved my mother tutting at the inordinate amount of time choosing took, that my hoarding of stationery started. Oddly it’s all the fault of stately homes and in the main the National Trust.
As a child while my mother was spending the summers studying at university (sounds odd and might mess with your head, so don’t think about it too much) I would go and spend the holidays with my Grandparents. This roughly involved going to a stately home almost every weekend, alas despite my begging it wasn’t Hardwick Hall every time. On these jaunts out my Gran would have her head in a guide book almost knocking into the items she was reading about, my Granddad (or Bongy as I called him) as a painter would be interested in all the artwork. I was interested in three things, the servants quarters in the spooky attics, the four poster beds (I still want to own one one day) and the gift shop.
I was allowed, as a memento of the day, to spend £1 in each stately-home/castle/cathedral/museum that we went to. Before you start thinking my Grandparents were tight this was back in the mid 1980’s and £1 went far, roughly to a pencil, bookmark, rubber/eraser and if you were really lucky there might still be room for a badge/themed chocolate coin. I know this, as very soon I had about 10/12 of these sets within the space of a year.
What always eluded me though was notepads, I was from a family that were allowed to draw or write on the back (clean side) of Kent County Council headed paper, somehow acquired – we never asked how – by my Great Uncle Derrick, or on the back of the questionnaires my Gran drove around the area asking people on behalf of the government. You were probably looking at £1.25 for a simple, yet appropriately endorsed, journalists jotter or stapled tiny notepad that would have fallen apart on the way home – if you had been lucky enough to get one.
The illusive nature of the notepad stuck with me in school. ‘Have you lost your new exercise book again Simon… honestly, I only gave you a new one the other day!’ In actuality it was probably the day before and that notepad was now squirreled away in the big blue trunk at the end of my bed to write stories in or to just be left pristine because that is how special a notebook was, we still had reams of Kent County Council paper after all.
In adult life this acquiring carried on, only invariably through my employers. Oh dear. Note: Before I move forward let me just say I now work for the council and any chance of getting a new notepad is as likely as a pig flying through the office, I think you have to get a sign off (possibly in blood) from two managers before you can have a pen – you think I am joking don’t you? Stationery cupboards were not safe and at one particular company, where I was an office manager, nor was the stationery catalogue. I shall say no more. Temping also proved amazing in London as every company you went to, you needed a new notepad, yet you could easily pop some scrap paper in said notebook leaving it pristine when you had left even if that was only a day/week later. Is that bad? Should I feel terrible? On the wages I was on I think not.
Now as a proper grown up (which I begrudgingly agreed I should be after 30 years of age) the addiction is just to buy it when I can. Only last week on a lunch break Sam, Chloe and Katie moaned ‘not bloody Paperchase again Simon, you went in last week’ – they don’t understand. This morning, this is no lie see the @WeScribbleIt twitter feed, I constructed ‘going out for breakfast’ to somewhere near Staples. I also do this with bookshops.
Do I write on these purchases? Not all of them, are you mad? I intend to… at some point, mainly though 70% are waiting for just the right reason to be used. Their time will come. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes I do still get a pen, a rubber/eraser and a bookmark when I go to a stately home/museum/castle and if I am feeling really lavish I might even buy myself a desk jotter!!!!!