In defence of beautiful stationery

Penelope Whitson fondly recalls the pregnant Twink pen.

Back in the day when I was forced by my supposedly loving parents to return to school each summer, the only thing that made getting back into my brown uniform worthwhile was the annual trip to the stationery shop.

penelope whitson editor stationeryWe’d buy fancy rubbers with googly eyes, back when a rubber was just a rubber and not a dirty word. Pencil sharpeners disguised as ice cream cones – where the ice cream was an eraser that never worked – so cunning! And the crowning glory: the apparently pregnant Twink pen.

Now armed with a laptop, I am still rather partial to paper, pen and the office stationery cupboard. It’s a pure and steady love affair. Stationery will never hurt me, aside from the love bite that is
a paper cut. To the uninitiated, to write something down all one needs is a writing implement and a scrap of paper – to the stationery devotee, it’s an opportunity to find the correct notebook and pen and scrawl with gusto.

Screw the laptop, bring on the grams per square metre.

We like to look hip and awesome when we’re doing our homework. Or office work. Or writing the shopping list. And like most things in life, it’s easier to do something when we feel good and think we look good doing it.

Thus, breakup notes written with a four-colour pen are that much jollier.

Stationery has evolved substantially since I was at school – the cornucopia of choice for just a pen is pant-wettingly impressive: choosing just one means ignoring the siren’s call of another 10 equally valid options. The designs, the colours, the pointiness of the nibs and the smeariness of the ink. It’s stationery porn.

And should you suffer from writer’s constipation, you can distract yourself with one of the sexiest looks in stationery – a plain white piece of paper and a proper ink pen (not a ballpoint, you dirty beast – don’t sully your paper like that).

My current diary is a rebound book – it used to be a book called Penelope’s Man, and now it’s Penelope’s diary – it’s recycling and true love all wrapped up in one. I love it so much it looks a trifle, well, used. Spankings for me.

However, sometimes stationery designers fail to do their research, as evidenced by a diary I found in South Korea emblazoned with the words ‘Sodamy is pretty’. Sodamy was a cartoon character. She was indeed pretty. I bought the diary.

Penelope Whitson is an editor and stationery fiend

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