There's something very comforting about stationery; books and pens.
In Mexico people carry fetishes, that is, items believed to hold great power, often blessed by shamans.
People carry their fetishes with them, always.
For rain you might carry a stone frog. For strength and protection, stone bears and so on.
I carry a notebook and pen. Everywhere.
Each February I head out for my favourite back-to-work moment - that is, an expedition in search of the perfect notebook and a new pen that will last 'till the following January.
Occasionally, I've made the mistake of not wearing my glasses. Such forgetfulness, dear reader, makes me cranky because I want to read about this feature or that which makes one notebook superior to another.
Notebooks are my fetish.
When we had Birchalls, I would become overwhelmed by the choice of notebooks and pens.
The abundance of paper and spiral, pencil and pen made my head spin.
When I carry a notebook I feel secure. They are my place of language, where shorthand and longhand mingle. Very few numbers are on my pages. Instead, encounters, appointments, interviews and work to be done.
They all live together within each year's notebook.
Notebooks can also hide the coffee stain on my shirt or 'shield' me from difficult people.
With a notebook in hand since age 21, I have records of each day. Nothing gets lost. They are my corporate and personal memory.
When my son asked what gift he could give me when I turned 60, I asked for his first journalist's notebook from his first job, with this newspaper.
BTW one of the first signs that the newspaper industry had 'changed' was when reporters had to show notebooks with both sides filled before being issued with another. The same went for pens. To get a new one, present the empty.
In my office, there is a neat stack of 10 years of my StGiles notebooks, and I know the contents of each ... the stories of my days.
My contact notebook tells another story. It is red vinyl. It's ugly on the eye and holds two decades of secrets.
It's held together by a very grubby piece of elastic. It's littered with tiny black and blue writing and notes about why and how the contact might be useful (or not).
It's filled with people and tells the story of my days; these precious Tasmanian years.
For now, just a handful of my contacts have died. Perhaps, my 'contact book' fetish brings longevity?
Last year's back-to-work notebook hunt yielded the 'Platinum'.
The maker's A4 'platinum' claim let me down.
It cost three times the usual at $17, and its black wire binding pulled away and turned into a tangle that poked at me like an angry budgie.
It even refused to hold my pen.
On Tuesday I went hunting.
Among the shining rows of gaudy pastel, gold and yellow 'spiral' notebooks was 'The Tradie'.
Dear reader, I discovered notebook nirvana with my Tradie.
It's a notebook that at once is a fetish and a very seriously durable and useful companion for 2020.
It is A4, hard cover and the pages are made of stone?!
"This notebook has a durable hard cover that is water, oil and tear-resistant. The paper is made from stone (fetish) and is tough so you can write without worrying about bleed through to the next page."
Like the best of tradies, my new notebook is reliable. It's easy to find with safety tape bright yellow and black markings and, dear reader, it can keep a secret.