I first identified the condition when I missed a train because I was browsing the Waterloo station branch of Paperchase. After that, I’d only have to see a shop called Enveloping Love or Why Quibble ’Bout the Scribble? and I’d lose all sense of time.
For who can resist smoothly sliding drawers full of rainbow-coloured, virgin sheets of paper, just calling out for a Papermate?
Or beguiling stacks of notebooks embossed with flowers, birds, trailing vines…
Seemed such a shame to write in those at all.
So my own stack grew. It now covers half the floor of the spare room. When him indoors grumbled, I pointed out that I could be stockpiling Loboutins instead of eye-catching stationery.
Then someone gave me a beautiful, glossy black notebook with richly gilt-edged pages and silk, tasselled place-holder. Tasselled. I mean, come on!
That was too good even for the floor, so it went into a chest of drawers, cocooned by a Christmas jumper. I might use it one day, if I find a pen sleekly worthy of its pillowy pages.

I don’t know how far it is from mild affliction to hard-core addiction. I probably crossed that Rubicon when I brought home a cute little acid-yellow diary with serpentine clasp as an alleged gift for a friend’s little girl. On reflection, I worried that the clasp might be too fiddly, so decided to keep it for myself – even though it’s also got a flamingo-pink plastic heart on the front emblazoned with ‘my first diary’.
Then I discovered discount stationer-cum-bookshop The Works.

Notebook nirvana

The Works has been my salvation. Not only can I feed my habit there without breaking the bank, but I can also extol my thrift in bulk-buying lots of other stuff alongside the notebooks…
If a therapist asked me where this all started, I’d say it goes back to the fashion at my all-girls school for customising ring-bind work folders with cultural icons of the day. While most of my classmates plumped for pop stars, I collected stills from Star Trek and glued them ever so carefully to the front of my folders in a paper and paste patchwork. Then I took it a bit further and laminated the folders because I had to stand at a bus stop in the rain.
But I reckon the colourful results we all toted around equated to the individualising accessories banned from school uniform – jewellery, belts, scarves, make-up. And maybe, because I’ve always taken a minimalist approach to most of the latter (and Loboutins) as an adult, the decorative notebook became my default fashion statement.
Well, it’s a thought.
Then, on my last visit to The Works – strictly to browse, you understand – I found a notebook covered in a William Morris design of lemons!
‘No!’ I thought, recalling my Jenga stack in the spare room. ‘You must resist! You can do this!’
But who was I kidding? As the Borg in Star Trek will tell you, resistance is fairly futile when you’re actually yearning to be sold a lemon on the front of a notebook.
Reader, I bought it.
It’s now on the pile.
And one day, I may even write in it.

The answer is a lemon

The answer is a lemon