Who’d have thought it was so hard to buy a notebook? I like to keep a notebook with me when I’m out in case of sudden inspiration (or boredom on the train), and I’d finished the small square hard-backed one that OneMonkey had bought me on holiday last May. Over the last few days I’ve been in bookshops and stationers at lunchtime and on the way home, I’ve browsed online (unsatisfactory because I can’t handle the books) and I couldn’t find anything I wanted. They’ve been too thin, too heavy, too large a page to fit in my bag, they’ve had ornamentation that would get caught on things, covers too easy to damage, ostentatiously bulky spiral binding. I’ve rejected leather covers, squared paper, wide lined paper (and eventually lined paper in general). I’ve looked at plain covers, artistic covers, covers disguised as classic Penguin novels, brand-name notebooks, no-name notebooks, hard-back, soft-back, with and without page-marking ribbons, elastic bands and inside pockets. I hadn’t realised what a wide variety of notebooks there were out there (or how snobbish people can get about them, or how expensive some of them are).
Today, as a last resort I tried the cheap stationers in the decaying old shopping arcade that time forgot. About to give up because it was mainly A4 pads, exercise books and cash books, a flash of colour caught my eye. There on the shelf was a plain-paper notebook, A6 (good size), about the thickness of the John Wyndham novel I’m currently reading (so not too bulky), with fairly rigid plain purple soft cover (so not too heavy), purple elastic to hold it shut, a purple bookmark ribbon and even a pocket in the inside cover (though I wasn’t fussed about that, I can’t see me using it). It called to me, and I answered. And it was about a third of the price of the only other one that had come close.
Interestingly, in the week or two that I’ve been without a notebook on my travels I haven’t had the urge to write anything while commuting or at lunchtime, but within a quarter of an hour of buying this I was on the train scribbling away, my brain swimming with urgent ideas. Coincidence?