I have to admit that the title sounds a lot more exciting than the reality. The only “Fifty Shades of Grey” I’m afraid that you are going to get from my blog today is fifty shades of grey writing paper.
I was having lunch today with some girlfriends and it was a conversation we had that has sparked this blog piece – I, or to be more correct my friends and I, are stationery fetishists ( I hasten to add that I mean fetishist in the dictionary meaning of “someone who has an excessive and irrational commitment to something” rather than any sexual overtones). I wouldn’t have ever described myself as this until I realised that in fact I am not alone – far from it, there are loads of us out there: people who really love stationery and most particularly shops that sell stationery in all its shapes and forms. I am not just talking about the Smythsons of this world – luxury stationery – I get more satisfaction than I should from looking at the more humble stationery displays in WH Smith. Who needs a Mont Blanc pen – all I want is any fine point ballpoint pen with turquoise or green ink (my personal favourites)? I find it almost impossible to pass a fine display of stationery and not buy something for which I have absolutely no use at all. I recently bought a huge stash of multi-coloured post-it notes despite already owning at least 10 pads of regular yellow post-it notes – totally superfluous, yes, but you can never have enough post-it notes (or at least that is how I justified it).
I think my “obsession” with stationery has its roots in my childhood when I had a writing case with lots of different coloured writing paper and a fountain pen with different colour inks – I loved that writing case or more accurately its contents. Of course in the era of email, letter-writing is on the wane (shame) but perhaps all this has done is feed my stationery fetish. Admittedly, I am less likely to be found salivating over different coloured writing paper nowadays, and much more likely to be found eyeing up yet more box files, multi-coloured wallet files, highlighter pens and the ultimate for any stationery fetishist – card: white card, black card, thick card, thin card, shiny card, even glittery card (as described to me in hushed, reverent tones today by a friend).
I recently went to a stationery superstore called “Staples” – this is basically like a child being let loose in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory: row upon row of stationery delights, organised pleasingly by use, colour and quality. As previous readers of my blog will know, as I have aged, I have developed a rather unhealthy obsession with Robert Dyas (that’s a shop not a Hollywood film star) and the only way I can describe “Staples” is that it is to stationery what Robert Dyas is to homeware. Even the name is inspired – “Staples” – suggests that you, the consumer, is “fixed” (in my case read “fixated on”) their store, unable to drag yourself away from the seemingly endless permutations of stationery ware.
Enough. The only reason that I feel able to even write about this little stationery-loving quirk of mine is that today I realised I am not alone. How do I know this – well today 5 seemingly normal women actually discussed their love of stationery seriously for a good ten minutes – it was all very therapeutic, in the vein of “hello, my name is … and I love stationery”.