Adventures in Stationery

I had an emergency yesterday evening. I had just finished summarising a section of my notes and was about to reduce them down onto a revision flash card when my pen ran out of ink. No worries, I thought, I have spare cartridges in the pen pot. So I wandered across to my pen pot, which sports a cheery wooden cat and lives atop my bookshelf.

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No ink cartridges in the pen pot. Actually, I now remembered using the last cartridge from that packet not long before, but it’s ok. I have more packets in the desk drawer – the local stationery shop sells them in bundles of five. Last time I went, I insisted they went down to the basement and fetched a five-bundle for me, because it’s cheaper to buy them that way (which might explain why they hadn’t put any out).

Oh. No spare packets in the desk drawer. Really? I scrabbled through the drawer, checking beneath the removable DVD drive and the camera cables in case they had slid beneath something. But no, there were definitely no ink cartridges in the desk drawer.

Next I checked the desk tidy on my table, which is where I used to keep my ink cartridges. I can’t remember why I changed, actually, but I was hoping I might not have moved them all. Sadly, I had. Nor could I find my old fountain pen, which I was optimistically hoping might have still had some usable ink left in it.

Now I was in a quandry. I have written in medium-nib Parker pen with blue ink for years. My handwriting was developed for that specific tool. In fact, I have been using the same pen for at least three years and probably longer. All my revision cards are written in the same flowing blue cursive. It would throw my entire system off to use a different pen, especially (gasp!) a ballpoint.

So more ink cartridges had to be purchased. The problem was that it was 8pm, long after the stationers had closed. The supermarket, to my almost certain knowledge, does not sell Parker ink, and I wasn’t prepared to make the trek into town for the tiny possibility that I might not have noticed them in the four years I’ve been shopping there. There was no alternative; I simply had to abandon the flash cards for the evening and spend my time instead making further summaries of my notes, which will need to be transferred onto flash cards at a later date (or, considering the alarming proximity of the exam, might very probably never make it onto cards at all).

This morning, before I had even eaten breakfast, I headed into town determined to ensure that the events of the previous night would never occur again. An hour later I was back, bearing not only three packets of Parker ink cartridges but also a bag of standard cartridges for other fountain pens, since during my frantic searching I had rediscovered an old but very snazzy pink pen which takes the less expensive, more easily obtainable small cartridges. I was also carrying a magnetic shopping list and meal planner, which I serendipitously discovered in Paperchase whilst browsing their selection of organisers.

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The reason I was browsing the selection of organisers is that I have been dithering this week. I have been dithering over what type of diary I should use next academic year. Technically, I could continue using my current one. Although it started the year by proclaiming itself to be an academic diary (the opening page is the final week of June 2012), it sneakily converts into a calendar-year diary by running to the first week of January 2014. But I’m a sucker for stationery, and I wanted to be able to put my entire year’s schedule into my diary in one go.

The dilemma was that my current diary, which I bought in the USA, which has been perfect in almost every way, and which is available through a UK supplier with a sturdy and very pretty re-usable cover, does not have sufficient space for my weekly to-do, shopping and meal plan lists. It does have a small notes section in order to visually balance out another of its advantages – the fact that it treats Saturday and Sunday as equally important to weekdays, which many diaries do not – but it is only large enough for one of the three lists.

I had been considering resolving this clearly very important difficulty by buying a Filofax. Until very recently I had not realised that owning a Filofax makes you a member of a small but extremely earnest club of afficionados who, amongst many other hobbies, produce customised downloadable inserts. I had found a smart-looking meal planner and a simple but effective to-do list, and even selected the diary insert which meets all my requirements: a week to two pages, with equal space dedicated to weekends and weekdays, and a section for non-date-specific tasks. The problem was that it only seemed to be avaible in one particular, and expensive, size of Filofax cover. I was attempting to justify spending upwards of £60 on a diary, but I just couldn’t manage it.

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So I was delighted to have the situation so unexpectedly resolved by a really quite obvious solution: to out-source my shopping lists and meal plans from my diary. Having a tear-off page for the shopping list makes a lot more sense than lugging my A5 diary to the shops every time I need more than three things, and having a designated offline home for my meal planner will stop me having to log into my food blog every time I want to check what’s for dinner. And, above all, it means I can buy the diary which I’ve had my eye on for months. Purchasing stationery is a serious matter, and I have put several hours into researching my new diary in the last six months or so. This was the final hurdle to concluding that I had found my absolutely ideal diary, and it has been surmounted!

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