Remember when you were 8 years old, and there was nothing more exciting than getting new stationery with which to start the school term? A new workbook was a thing of beauty, and those crisp white pages never failed to bring out the perfectionist in even the most ordinarily untidy child. So much so, that I can still feel the anxiety of that first pen-to-paper moment, when only the best biro and total concentration would suffice. If ever there was an incentive for neat handwriting, it was the fear of a Tip-ex shaped interruption to that momentum of neatness that we were always determined and convinced would last the term. Six weeks and 100 pages later, the outcome was invariably always the same. Two neat pages - the stuff that gold stars, ticks and 'good work' annotations are made of - and 48 of illegible, doodle framed hieroglyphics. But at least we still had all those lovingly sharpened pencils and biros still with all their lids on to show for our resolutions, eh? That is, if only we could find them amid the mass of pencil shaving and orphan pen lids now cluttering our somewhat ink stained pencil cases.
The reality was, the moment you took your eye off the ball (point pen), lids went awol, nibs came loose, and don't even get me started on the rubbers. Rubbers were my favourite collectors item... closely followed by those tiny balls from ink cartridges. Yes, I probably did need to get out more! But in my defence, what 8 year old needs a social life when they had such novel inventions as a biro which could switch colours (even if the multitude of nibs meant it was too fat to hold properly), or a double ended ink eraser /corrector pen that promised to put an end to all aforementioned new workbook angst?
On the subject of genius stationery inventions, who wasn't impressed by the scratch and sniff plastic pencils with replaceable nibs that you pull out and slot back into the top to produce a new nib? That, and the Tip-ex mouse that was meant to revolutionise the correction process, but instead made for a somewhat stressful test of perseverance and agility in keeping an irritatingly fragile sheath of tape intact. Last but not least, the slap ruler that would miraculously double up as a bracelet, or those that folded for compactability, but mostly ended up as two estranged - and therefore somewhat useless - halves which never quite measured up in maths (excuse the pun)!
Functional or not was besides the point, for who cared if their handwriting suffered under the weight of a toy troll when the addition carried such hefty street cred, particular if you managed to fashion that distinctive pink fuzz-for-hair into a punk rocker style do! Such fond memories forged off the back of what is, essentially, only stationery. But to young minds, pens, pencils, pads and such like are so much more. A channel for creativity and imagination, and later a means of communication, plus not forgetting their role in identity and expression. With shops such as Paperchase helping pave the way for personal styling through stationery, you can now tell a lot about someone by the pen that they use, or the diary they carry!
Out of the 52 weeks of the year that stationery helps us organise and plan our lives around, it seems only fair that one of these weeks should be a testament to this important role that it still plays in our modern, and otherwise digital dependent, lives. Happy National Stationery Week!