You reach a point in your life where you step back and evaluate all the life-skills you have, and work on areas where you find you might be lacking. Then you go out, get drunk and forget all about it. While eating bhuna rolls. Ten years too later, you repeat the exercise. This time you see the matter through and decide to teach yourself those skills, because ugh, who wants to go out, it’s just kids getting drunk and eating bhuna rolls.
One area I felt needed work was the field of organisation and paperwork. Previously I followed a meticulous and complex system of filing called the “throw papers into nearest convenient receptacle” method. But I’m neither rich nor famous, so jail would probably not be fun for me. And so I decided to update all my paperwork the bureaucratic way.
Confessions of a stationery addict: Filing paperwork is a fantastic life-skill to have because it trains you to not cry when you really want to. Representation Pic/Thinkstock
Filing paperwork is a fantastic life-skill to have because it trains you to not cry when you really want to. I punched and filed all my bills into separate labeled binders. I printed duplicates of gaps, arranged them chronologically, and lined them up. Then my cat peed on them so I had to throw them all away. (BUT no crying)
Filing is like golf; it’s boring, and people who wear only uncle clothes seem best at it. Like golf, it is also not a poor man’s sport. Because filing requires stationery. Sometimes people go into supermarkets to buy “one small thing” and come out three hours later looking dazed with a fridge under each arm.
When one emerges from this fugue state, one finds very little money left in their wallet. Stationery shops are where that remaining money goes to die. Or to reabsorb into the economy, or the equally large (but more worrying) parallel economy. That’s right, your stapler funds terrorism. But who cares, oh my god it’s so beautiful.
I didn’t need much. Four folders and a punching machine. (Which would be a great name for a sitcom about four terrible poker players and the boxer they’re all in love with. HBO, call me) But stationery shops are houses of sin. You walk down lanes while on both sides of you, exotic pencils and glue-sticks parade themselves before you. They leer at you, making lusty attempts at the seduction and corruption of your feeble soul. Pencils gleam at you with promises of more kinds of literary depravity than you think exist. A short walk away, an assortment of paper vies for your attention, each sheaf singing its siren song, even though they all know you only have eyes for the handmade stuff.
I need folders. I got a stapler, staple-pins, a machine that removes staple-pins, a third machine that re-bends staple pins so they can be reused, and a laser gun that fuses all the re-bent pins together so they look as good as new.
I also bought two exquisite notebooks to write my important thoughts. They look like they were handcrafted by a group of Instagram filters. They come with a free bookmark and superior melancholic behaviour . They’re exquisite. These are the notebooks on which the movie was based. According to the cover they are even made of mole skins.
My desire to better myself through filing has plunged me into an unshakeable stationery habit. Every day, I now come home and roll myself a nice fat bundle of chart paper, and after a few mellow hours I get really hungry. I haven’t been to work in weeks and I just stand outside stationery stores now, asking people to score me an easel or a whiteboard in exchange for sexual favours (and filing).
The other day I saw a group of schoolchildren inhaling correction fluid and glue. I stole both from them and ran away. Why would they inhale these beautiful things when they could use them to stick photos on to forms, or put them in a drawer at right angles to the envelopes? And before you set your eyes upon me with pity or worry, let me say right now that I seek neither from you. However if you have a pack of sticky notes, especially the colour-coded ones that look like a rainbow when you line them up, I would like those very much. Just for my files, of course.
Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi