Papyrophilia: to have an obsessive love of paper products, otherwise known as addiction to stationery.  I think this could be me, I’m definitely a paper girl at heart.  I much prefer using paper for everything I have to write… lists, notes, reminders, memories, ideas, even my diary.  I may have calendar and appointment functions on my phone, but my brain doesn’t process information like this at all.  I have to make the mark myself on paper and see the written entry.  It’s how my brain works.  I know we live in times where technology has advanced and people use their gadgets for everything even ordering the weekly shopping.  There are electronic books, notebooks and diaries used by so many, many my age, and certainly many younger than I, but it’s really not for me, it doesn’t work for me at all, I don’t understand it, I don’t follow what’s going on, and I don’t like it.   I’m not including my own teenager in the ‘youth of today’ statement either, as I’m not sure he uses a diary at all, and if it weren’t for me being his PA he wouldn’t remember anything, including his head so thank goodness that’s screwed on. 

I love stationery, and I tend to gravitate to it in shops generally.  It draws me, entices me, teases me, displayed so beautifully, and lying there patiently waiting for me to pick up.  I love notebooks, and can’t resist purchasing more, however many I have unused at home.  I have numerous notebooks, used, being used, and a stack of these not yet used, and always have one with me for jotting the many ideas which just pop into my head and which I have to jot down as immediately as they appear, otherwise they carry on swirling round in my head, I forget, and then I have to hope that they swish round again into my psyche, otherwise they may be lost forever.  I know that when I produce my articles and blogs, they are not printed in paper form, but are published electronically; this is the age we live in, it is the way of the world, and to be honest it is a brilliant way of reaching so many, and sharing with so many … but the ideas, the preparation, the offloading of all my thoughts, is all written and journaled on paper … it’s where it all begins.

I write all sorts of notes and meandering thoughts, and I like writing these in pencil.  Not only do I find it easier to write quickly and neatly in pencil, but I also find it easier to read back when I look over my jottings and make sense of it all.  I love pencils.  I love the shades created by pencil, and pencil drawings.  I love how hard or soft the pencil is, and therefore how dark or broad the pencil marks are on the paper, but for every day writing, I choose to use an HB.  I love how when writing in pencil there is friction, how it grips the page in a way which pen doesn’t, and certainly not biros.  Ink pens are somewhat better, but I will always favour a pencil.  Notes jotted down, shopping or to do lists, and I’ve even given a pencil to Oliver for his schoolwork, which he pointed out to me that he wanted to use a pen as he did have a pen licence.   I find that writing with pencil is neater, and much better to correct mistakes and keep it all neat and tidy, and indeed Oliver is now in the habit of using pencil for his work with me in “school of mum”. 

Is it just me? I’m sure it isn’t.  I’m quite sure that there are many others who love pencils, and love stationery.  Paper and pencils are my secret love, and you can stick your slippy, skiddy, pens as far as I’m concerned.  I know I’m not alone, I have a friend who is equally as obsessed …actually I’d go as far as saying that she’s more obsessed, and when it comes to buying stationery supplies she’s someone who makes me look positively restrained; even I haven’t been offered a business account with Amazon for buying extreme amounts of stationery supplies!

The feel of the pencil is what I love, and I suppose this is why I love writing with chalk too.   We have a blackboard and chalk in our dining room.  I say dining room, but this room is actually the main hub of the house, our every day room, place of work for Justin, place for homework, home schooling, a place for just plonking ourselves during the day for a chat or a brew, and of course mealtimes … used for everything, this room is the centre of operations of the Dee household.  Anyway, the blackboard is on the wall, and again used all the time.  I write messages, to do lists, as well as to draw quick diagrams or deliver quick lessons when explaining anything which requires a little visual explanation.   I didn’t want a white board; I really don’t like them.  I don’t like the colour of them, with all those bright coloured pens making glaringly bright words on them, I much prefer the muted colours of chalk, and of course I like the way chalk grips the board as you write, rather than skidding all over the place as the markers for white boards do.  

I loved the blackboards in schools, those four or five panels on a roller, able to be saved for another lesson.  Visually I found the writing with chalk on blackboards neater, as well as having less glare, and much more pleasing on the eye.  There really is something going on in my brain linked to muted or glaring colours, which makes me either concentrate, or put me off completely.  Suffice it to say, this is why we have a blackboard, not a whiteboard in our house now.

But back to pencils and stationery supplies … shops full of stock ready for people to purchase their school supplies for the start of term after the summer break.  There’s just something wonderful about new stationery supplies, even the smell of it.  Workbooks, pens, rulers, erasers, and newly sharpened pencils … who can resist?  Sharpening a pencil with a pen knife works really well, and better than most sharpeners in my opinion, with the exception of those lovely pencil sharpeners, where you have to clamp the pencil and rotate the handle to sharpen them, periodically emptying the draw of all the shavings.  I treated myself to one of these when we visited the Derwent Pencil Museum a few years ago, and whilst I’m at it, let me say what a treat it was to visit there.  It’s only a small museum, albeit rather interesting (well it was for me), but the shop … oh my goodness … I thought I’d died and gone to heaven in this shop.  The famous Derwent pencils sorted and categorised in as many colours as you could possibly think of – and these colouring pencils are such good quality, the best I have ever used.  If you’re a stationery lover you have to go.   I’m rather partial to good quality colouring pencils too, and certainly I’ve always encouraged the children to use of coloured pencils rather than felt tips, the finished artwork looks so much nicer.

I’m a big fan of sending cards, letters and postcards, call me old fashioned, but you can forget all this e-card rubbish.  There is something magical about a letter, beautifully handwritten, and full of sentiment, emotion, time and effort.  As the postman delivers the letter, and it lands on the doormat, there is anticipation, collecting it from the front door, working out who might have sent it from the handwriting or from the postmark.  Looking at the stamp, picture stamps, some of the special commission stamps are wonderful, even the Christmas stamps looking so pretty in the corner of the envelope.  Has the stamp even been marked, or has it escaped a postmark so it can be salvaged and reused on another letter, making the postage a bit cheaper, because I do admit, sending a letter these days isn’t that cheap?  I tear off the stamps from the envelopes, even if they have been postmarked, and save them up to donate to charity for them to earn some money from them; I have a couple of friends who collect these for various charities.

I buy lots of cards, whether I need one or not.  If I see one that I like, then I buy it, and keep in stock for an occasion I can use it.  Sometimes I have to go out on purposeful trips to buy a card which I need, but more often than not, I’ve already bought a specific card for someone weeks before, and put it away until I can send it to them for that special occasion.  

Envelopes too I love, and will buy packets of beautifully coloured envelopes to use for that special occasion.  Of course, I’ve got loads of boring and ordinary ones too, and as I’ve mentioned before I will always reuse envelopes if I can.  I will often scribble out what’s on the front with a marker pen, and then scribble on what the envelope is for … £1 for this or that at school, or money for music lessons or such, and if I want it to look a bit better, I’ll perhaps pop a sticky label on to hide any writing, as I’m always tempted by a lovely coloured or decorated sticky label too.  I once bought a pack of beautiful labels from Friends of The Earth for exactly this purpose … which I’d actually forgotten about until I sat to write this, so I’m now reminded to seek out and purchase some more.

What a treat it is to receive a letter.  I am drawn to look at how the letter has been addressed though, and like to see either Mr and Mrs J M Dee, or Mrs E Dee on the top line.  Yes I do like my Sunday name used on a letter.  People may call me Liz in person, but for the record, on anything official I like my full name to be used.  My title is Mrs (I’m not a Miss anymore, and have always found the title Ms rather pretentious), my initial is E for Elizabeth, and I do so much like it used … oh how I do hate Mrs L Dee written on an envelope … just saying.

By Elizabeth Dee

www.elizabethdee.me