Bottle Pen

The stationer breathed a sigh of relief today when I went in and brought four colour cartridges for my printer.

"Ha – you thought I was just going to ask for one envelope," I said. He smiled weakly, then quickly and with total stationeresque skill shifted his eyes to a display of pens on the counter. They're recycled. "Made from bottles" said the stationer. I'd just been in the library on Blackstock Road, reading an article in New Scientist about how the distant future for the earth is the extinction of all life, so buying a recycled pen, while a futile gesture, seemed like the right thing to do. Then the stationer's son (Stationer Jnr) came up to me.

"How are you?" he said.

"Poorer after coming into this shop," I said. The stationer looked hurt.

"I don't mean poorer spiritually. Just financially."

The stationer smiled.

C4 brown envelope

The stationer is now officially worried. That's two visits in a row in which I've bought just a solitary envelope. I'd agreed to sell a print of one of my Writers' Workshop cartoons - the one about Franz Kafka's tips for self-promotion – but it has taken me three and a half years to get around to sending it off. There was a massive queue at the Post Office on Seven Sisters Road so I worked out that it would be quicker to get the tube into town, drop off the envelope with the illustration to the buyer, then go for lunch at a nice Italian cafe. I timed it at two hours all in, pretty much the same time as I would have been waiting at the Post Office to buy my stamp.

The person who wanted the print has promised to send me a biography of Franz Kafka, written by her husband. I like the idea of biographies becoming a new kind of currency.

Jiffy Bag

At my local stationers I bought a size 1 Jiffy bag. The Jiffy bag is made from heavy duty brown paper and has a high quality sealing system. I'm trying hard to cut down on stationery items at the moment and managed to stop myself buying some more pens. The stationer looked at me with sad eyes.

"Are you not going to buy an ink cartridge for your printer?"
"No thanks, I'm going easy on the printing at the moment," I said, trying not to look him in the eye.
He sighed. "Oh," then did a sad thing with his eyes – made them big and a bit watery like a lonely puppy – and at that moment I nearly caved in. He then stepped aside so I could see all the great stuff he had behind the counter – pens, CDs, staplers, caligraphy sets, calculators, filing systems. I got very excited but managed to take the receipt and escape from the shop with just my Jiffy bag. 

Maybe I have started to beat my addiction.

Quink (black)

"Do you sell Quink?" I said to my local stationer.
"Do we sell Quink? Of course we sell Quink. That's a strange question."
"Well, it's the digital age. I wasn't sure that people still used Quink."
He snorts with derision and sells me the Quink, while also slipping in some crafty cross-selling and getting me to buy two expensive black ink cartridges for my inkjet printer.
I used to do loads of stuff in Quink, until I bought myself a Wacom art pad in 1997. There was a girl I worked with when I first came to London who drew wild landscapes in Quink. I fancied her, of course, but she had an on-off relationship with a Scottish rugby player so I didn't get involved. He didn't play for Scotland or anything, he was just Scottish and played rugby. We lost touch around 1989 but I kept her memory alive by starting to draw my own pictures in Quink. My pictures weren't wild, mostly just sketches of fat people at Walthamstow market or caricatures of my flatmates.
The stationer also cross-sold me some nice writing paper. I'm going to stop emailing my friends and write them proper letters instead. Masterpieces of the genre such as:
"Howdy. Fancy a pint Thursday? T."

Coloured fine liner pens

At Fish & Cook on Blackstock Road I buy three fine liner pens – pink, purple and green.

"Strange colour scheme, there" says the stationer. He often feels the need to comment on my purchases.
"Doing notes and referencing," I say.
"In purple?"
I want to say to him "Why do you have purple pens if you are uncomfortable about people buying them?" but I just smile.

The coloured pens are actually a trap to prove to my kids that they are always stealing my fine liner pens, but that is too complicated to explain.


I'm as worried about identity theft as the next person, which is why I invested in this high performance shredder. When boxed up it fits perfectly into the back of my store cupboard behind my practice amp. I've had it for nearly three years but only used it twice, both times to eradicate some really bad draft lyrics for political folk songs that I'd written on the back of my VISA card statements. If someone does steal my identity they might as well take the shredder, so that nobody can steal my identity again. Though come to think of it, if it's possible to steal an identity then one could just as easily steal your identity back. That's not theft, it's identity justice.

I think I'll print out this blog entry and shred it.