Addiction #273

The acknowledgement of one’s addictions is traditionally the first step toward recovery from them, and so it is that I must confess to one now. It’s an unusual one, but I trust there are enough fellow sufferers amongst those who regularly read this blog to ensure that I do not feel solely so encumbered; I think I am not alone.

I try very hard to resist succumbing. I do. I hurry past the shops and stalls of temptation with eyes downcast and face turned away. But something akin to magnetism or gravity drags my unwilling gaze round to the window display and then it is very unusual for me to escape unscathed.

As with so many addictions, I believe mine to be genetic. Specifically, I blame my father. If he hadn’t become a civil servant, an administrator, who knows? maybe I could have been left happily to my own devices without being ensnared by traders flouting their wares.

I gave in again this weekend. I tried to help myself but could not. It was right there, right in front of me, and the little portion of my brain that remained me could do nothing but sit back and watch aghast as once again I fuelled my addiction.

And what is it, you ask, that so devastatingly delights me? Since the closure of Toymaster with its model railway section (“Gavin’s Crack Den”, as my friends called it) there is no model shop in Aberdeen, so it can’t be that; I have been very good about avoiding Forbidden Planet recently, so it’s not that either; there are no DVDs currently in the chart (other than season 4 of Supernatural, but it’s just too expensive at the moment) that tempt me, so nor is it that…so what is it?

And the answer, tragically enough, is that I am a stationery fetishist.

Come Hither, My Pretties

Come Hither, My Pretties

I love notebooks, writing paper, propelling pencils, wet-ink pens… all of them sing to me in happy tones that they are just what I need to record for posterity the magnificence of my brilliance. They are a sensual pleasure – the act of writing, even if it’s utter nonsense, with a nice pen on heavy paper is one from which I derive a great deal of guilty bliss.

Bizarrely, the two most expensive books I own have nothing to do with any author but me. The first is the original first-draft printout of ‘Ghost Among Thieves‘, which I had to get printed in a print-shop in Guaymas, Mexico, at a price that – once I realised how many sheets of paper were involved with the undertaking – physically drove the breath from my body. The other is an entirely blank notebook that I got in Venice. It is hardback, with handmade paper and a handmade leather binding. It is a beautiful object but I’m now frightened to use it, firstly because I’m not sure what content I could put into it that would match the cover and secondly because I’m terrified to mar it with spelling errors. It is a cruel trepidation indeed.

I have other notebooks too, from a variety of art stores, art museums (the gift shops therein are very good for stationery with pretensions of grandeur), dedicated stationery shops – even WH Smith on occasion has worthwhile notebooks. Some of them I use quite deliberately. I have a number of hardback notebooks – I have pulled them out and they are sitting in front of me now – that I used for poetry. I have written poetry for years, won prizes for and even published some of the stuff, and though I won’t embarass either you or me by posting any here it is interesting to see the extent to which it completely dominates my notebooks. One of the things that I did (and had forgotten I did, until just now) was to name and date the books, so that I can work out where and when the poems come from. (I write poems on the laptop – it’s far easier to edit and tighten them that way – but I like to hand-write them into books afterwards). So I have before me five books of poems (so there’s probably nearer to 1,000 than 500 in there) that take me from 2002 (with some of the better school-era ones included) all the way to 2007/8, which was when I  seemed to run out of things to say, at least in poetic form.

Then there’s a soft leather-covered book that seems to be a form of occasional journal (and has clearly fallen out of favour, since the last entry is dated 25/08/2007), and a very old hardbacked school notebook (I think orignally from 1st Form Geography) from which all the geography has been torn and the remaining pages used for Ideas. The capital letter is justified: this book contains the very very first mention of Paul Ray and the story that would eventually be told in the Fulcrum War trilogy. I have a small notebook – it fits very neatly into, for example, a breast pocket – that looks like the Penguin edition of ‘1984‘ (a book for which I have particular affection, as that’s when I was born) that I use for spur-of-the-moment-ideas and the recording of important pieces of information. Finally, the book I bought this weekend was another soft-leather type, with very old-looking, very battered black leather covers – it looks like a prop from Buffy or Supernatural – that I am going to use for my Screwtape letters. It has exactly the right kind of ambiance (he said, justifying furiously).

So tell me – are there any fellow-sufferers out there?

Because in the meantime, I have some writing to do…

Today’s Zen:

Rebuilt Bulleid Pacific 'Plymouth' simmers in the industrial yard for reasons known only to her driver...

Rebuilt Bulleid Pacific 'Plymouth' simmers in the industrial yard for reasons known only to her driver...

About Gavin

I am a 32-year-old PhD student in Aberdeen, Scotland. I work in QC at an e-learning company. I'm originally Northern Irish, though I've lived here in Aberdeen for several years. I am, essentially, somebody who is very normal, yet to whom very strange things keep happening...
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2 Responses to Addiction #273

  1. Eruntane says:

    You are not at all alone. The picture of the Paperblanks range which you posted caused a sharp intake of breath, which was then released in a wistful sigh (really, it was full of wist.) I cannot pass a shelf of Paperblanks or Moleskines without stopping to look, run my fingers over the covers, flick through the ones that aren’t shrink-wrapped and promise myself that as soon as I’ve used up my current notebook (it’s a fairly cheap Pukka Pad which I bought to scribble in while I was on mission in France a couple of summers ago, and yet despite its cheapness I find its compact hard-backness extremely pleasing) I will treat myself to a new, luxurious book. I also have an A5 Paperblanks book which someone gave me one Christmas (she was convinced it was a naff present and couldn’t understand how I was so enraptured) which is kept for writing poems in neat. I have to confess my one gripe with this book is that the paper doesn’t like my fountain pen very much, but I love both book and pen too much to give up on either. If the flat ever takes fire (which it very well might have done last week thanks to a loose connection in the isolating switch on the shower), chances are that as I flee down the stairs I’ll be clutching my oboe in one hand, that book in the other and the cat under one arm.

    Did the new notebook you bought this weekend come from a certain stall in the international market, by any chance?

  2. Sibyl says:

    Well honey, you and I have never agreed on pens. But that is a deeply personal thing. I have had some very expensive fountain pens in my time and I hated every one of them. Messy, scratchy things.

    But on the subject of notebooks, I recently piled all mine to one side of my desk. They belong on a shelf, all organised so that they can receive the awe they deserve, but I am out of shelf space. As usual. I haven’t written in any of them. I have some that are so pretty, I handle them the way a curator might handle an original edition of the Bible. But I can’t bring myself to write in them. I wonder if I ever will. It scares me that someone, some day, might pick up this lovely book with it’s leather cover and beautiful, creamy-white paper and actually read what’s in it. Which, as I rarely write anything worth reading, will be extremely disappointing and reduce me tears of shame and suicidal depression.

    Now, the really cheap, Tesco Value notebooks with the slightly grey, extremely thin and manky paper and tacky white covers are perfect. I have filled dozens of them. I am never afraid to write in one. Or spill tea on one. Or tear out pages to use for shopping lists/bookmarks/paper aeroplanes/extra loo-paper.

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