2012 – Reflections

New Years Eve 2011 London

New Years Eve 2011 London (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

So as we hurtle (or in my case limp due to age, a bad knee and the fact that I’m currently lurgy-ridden) towards 2013, I thought I would wrap up 2012 (“put it to bed”as those corporate types like to say) with a few reflections.  There is lots I could say about world events, economies, tragedies, successes and I’m sure I could do this in a serious fashion but I’m going to leave that up to the broadsheets and magazines who love nothing more in the period between Christmas and New Year than compiling endless lists about the year gone by – the highs, the lows, the events that shaped our world etc. No, I am going to focus on what directly affected me (not that I’m ego-centric or anything) and as you would expect much of what I say will be bordering on trivial and utterly irrelevant from a world perspective.

Firstly, this was the year that I turned 40.  Admittedly this is of no consequence to anyone except me and actually of very limited interest to anyone except perhaps a handful of family and close friends.  However, since I started this whole blogging lark in the run-up to turning twice twenty, it seems only right that I should mention it first. I have to admit that I currently feel closer to turning twice forty than twenty but putting that aside, I have to say that my experience of reaching this landmark age has been largely positive.  We had lots of celebrations and everyone was really nice to me in November (the month of the actual turning twice twenty) so I can’t complain.  I’ve decided that being 40 is infinitely preferable to 39 which is undoubtedly the most non-age of all.  I am feeling quite comfortable in my own skin (although there does seems to be rather more of it than I might like on my face in the form of wrinkles which I am sure were not there 12 months ago) and I definitely feel invigorated and determined to do more with my life.  So watch out, 2013, big things are going to happen.

2012 also saw the end of various activities which I have to say I shall not miss in the slightest.  No more nappy changing – hurray – I can leave the house without that tell-tale shoulder bag containing nappies, wipes, Sudocrem, nappy sacs, foldable changing mat and various toys to distract my child whilst I wrestle with the hell that is nappy-changing in public facilities. The other thing I have said goodbye to after 8 years is baby music classes – I know I am not the only person who actually only really enjoyed the first ever music class they did with their first child (novelty value) but then endured countless thousands more because if I didn’t go, then I felt that whole parent-guilt thing going on about not doing enough “activities” with my child.  I really admire those people who teach these baby/toddler music classes – how do they stay happy and smiley all the time.  I feel dangerously unstable after just half an hour once a week of singing “wind the bobbin up”.

Now to arts and culture – you know me, a proper little culture vulture.  2012 was the year of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and I reckon that with the exception of only one of my friends, I am probably the only person in the world who owns a copy but has not read it at all.  I don’t feel like I’ve missed out, actually if I’m honest I feel a bit smug that I have managed to resist the allure of this “mummy porn”. The other great cultural revelation of 2012 was that one man wonder PSY and his unmissable “Gangnam Style”.  I don’t care how old I am but I can safely say that some of my funniest moments this year have been either watching others or participating myself in some rendition of “Gangnam Style” – that “horse” dance has been the greatest leveller for all ages and all backgrounds.

It would be remiss of me not to mention “Great” Britain in this year.  Not only did we have the Jubilee as a wonderful excuse to indulge in extreme levels of partying nationwide, but we also managed to pull off the greatest show on earth with the Olympics and believe me that although this was obviously a surprise to many from other countries, the greatest surprise was for us, the British.  We are not a nation prone to hyperbole and excessive enthusiasm.  Indeed, on occasion, we seem to enjoy revelling in serious cynicism and an expectation that we shall fall short of any targets we set ourselves.  The Olympics took us by surprise – what an enormous success! Perhaps best summed up by our three gold medals in the athletics stadium in that glorious 45 minutes on Super Saturday.  Despite all the phenomenal talent on show from team GB and all the other competitors, it is worth mentioning that in 2012, it was a DOG that won the popular TV talent contest, Britain’s Got Talent – this would only happen in the UK.

So there we go – that’s 2012 wrapped up, except to say that it is raining again and that is the other record we have broken this year – the wettest ever on records. It reminds me of a statistic I read in The Sunday Telegraph that Britons use their lawnmowers for only 4 hours on average in a year – says it all really. However, think on the positives – what on earth would we talk about if we had wall-to-wall sunshine all year round?

Happy New Year to all and I’ll “see” you on the other side!

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Stationery Fetish…

A Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a...

A Post-it note is a piece of stationery with a re-adherable strip of adhesive on the back, designed for temporarily attaching notes to documents and other surfaces. Although now available in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, Post-it notes are most commonly a 3-inch (76 mm) square, canary yellow in color. A unique low-tack adhesive allows the notes to be easily attached and removed without leaving marks or residue, unless used on white boards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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”.