September means new pens and pencils and lots more goodies besides. We’re reminiscing about stationery we have known and loved
There’s something deliciously lovely about a new notebook, a set of matching pencils, or a virgin rubber, isn’t there? As adults we still think of September as a time to stock up and treat ourselves to a few new things for our workspaces. It must be a hangover from our school days. The last week of the summer holidays was always a melancholy few days, with the prospect of early mornings, uniforms and trigonometry looming, as memories of long days in the sunshine faded. But there was one small chink of light… the promise of new stationery to be purchased before the start of term.
Of course there were the necessary, but slightly boring items to be bought - set squares, protractors and HB pencils… Even boring stationery items are nice when they’re new though, aren’t they?
But the main stationery event of the summer was always the buying of the novelty stationery items. If your heart doesn’t beat a little faster to this day at the thought of a four-colour Bic biro, you may be missing part of your soul. And they were just the start…
Tintin pens that erased ink as if by magic (and left a strange yellow patch on the paper that could only be written over in biro); smelly rubbers (that would later be banned from most schools following a rumour that a rather dim child ate one); double-ended coloured pencils, giving you twice the colouring joy. The stationery aisle of John Menzies (or wherever your parents took you for your back-to-school shop) was an Aladdin’s cave of treasures.
The lucky few among us had parents who would indulge such whims as pop-out pencil cases - the ones with ten or so tiny compartments that popped out on a spring (and would likely be broken by half term). Oh to be a girl that had a special compartment for her rubber and pencil sharpener, let alone a tiny slot in the lid in which to store your lessons timetable and slide-out sections for felt-tip pens… All of which gadgetry ensured there was little room for any actual stationery inside, but that was beside the point.
Luckier still were those of us who had been to France over the summer and had the opportunity to buy ridiculously cheap and incredibly chic French stationery in hypermarches on the continent. Brightly coloured rubberised Naf Naf pencil cases and Chipie notebooks with squared <swoons> paper, marked out these most fortunate children with their covetable lives.
But the wonderful thing about stationery is that there was something for every budget and every taste. If you didn’t have a pop-out pencil case, you could still bring a bit of colour and magic to your (inferior, ordinary) pencil case, with a pink-haired troll pencil topper, a Pepsi Cola rubber (King of all the scented rubbers) or the simple addition of a few ‘googly eye’ stickers to the exterior of your Pukka jotter.
Stationery is as covetable today as ever, with chains such as Paperchase and Smiggle enchanting the youth of today with garish, scented, ever fluffier, furrier and zanier stationery. We’d like to say that ours were the glory days but really, any company that is helping bring the frisson of brand new pens and pencils to another generation, easing them gently into a new school term is ok by us. Viva, fancy stationery!
Do you remember particularly lovely stationery items from your childhood? Share your memories with us in the comments below.