I blame Charles Dickens, I really do – even though the last time I tried to find proof it was his fault, I was unable to.
My memory was that it was in Great Expectations that Pip had moved to London and was sitting with a character called the pale young gentleman. They had decided to sort their finances out and so had sat down to do so, then immediately got up again and gone out to buy stationery, which was designed to help them.
Whether or not my memory is correct (and I have just googled it and Pip does end up in London with Herbert who is described as a pale young gentleman when they first meet) the idea of buying stationery as a method for sorting out a particularly sticky problem has long been a favourite tactic of mine. Of course, it does no good whatsoever but as a diversionary tactic, it is highly comforting.
I am not a fan of shopping except when it comes to books, kitchen equipment or stationery and if I find myself in any shops selling any of that I will happily browse for hours and inevitably emerge with a lighter wallet.
The cooking stuff I definitely get from my mother, who has cupboards full to bursting with pans and trays and bowls and cups, but who still can not walk past a new item, especially if it is on sale. I manage to keep a lid on the pile that is growing in my house by staying out of the shops that sell it, but today found myself in a large retailer at lunchtime with two other team members who had decided that now was the time to buy 2017 notebooks to get organized for the year ahead.
I went with them and that was a mistake – on their part and mine. Long after they had found their notebooks and done what they considered to be more than enough browsing I was still skipping about the aisles like a kid in a sweet shop fingering bright cubes of post-it notes and notebooks with jazzy covers and one of those black elastic bands that go around the cover to stop them flipping open and to make them look slightly more artistic.
I also found some funky paper clips and agonized over the A4 notepads. Every year I make the mistake of buying four or five notepads with 120 pages each, which means that I can never find any information because I do not use them sequentially but concurrently.
I eventually settled on a big A4 notepad with 400 pages, because the cover said, ‘I never run out!’
It will, of course, but probably not before I have bought another one and maybe a yellow legal pad (they come in green and pink, too). I also picked up a thin to-do list to sit infront of my keyboard, which have columns entitled, ‘Life and Death’, ‘Could get away with it’ and a stack of sticky notes with FYI on them.
‘This has my name written all over it!’ I said to my colleague, who had come to find me because they had been waiting in the carpark for me for so long.
‘Yes it does,’ she agreed. Then asked, ‘What are you doing?’
‘I;m putting it back,’ I said.
‘But it had your name on it,’ she replied.
‘You are right,’ I said, went back and grabbed it and then headed for the checkout before I did any more damage to my wallet.
I am sure it will help me get lots of work done. It looks lovely on my desk, too.