Friday, March 23, 2007

Why I Love... Moleskine Notebooks

I have just spent £8.99 on a notebook. Next to it on the stationer’s shelf was something similar and perfectly adequate for a fraction of the price. But as the point-of-sale information helpfully pointed out, this cheap alternative would not be a Moleskine, the legendary notebook used by Picasso, Hemingway and Van Gogh.

Notebooks are important to writers. Travel author Bruce Chatwin wrote that "To lose a passport was the least of one's worries: to lose a notebook was a catastrophe". Oscar Wilde declared that “One should always have something sensational to read in the train.” When Moleskine production ceased in 1986, Chatwin bought up all that he could find. Now the little notebook with the famous pedigree is back.

Perhaps I had been reading too many Paul Auster novels where notebooks take on mystical powers over their owners. Or perhaps, like would-be creative types before me, I simply read the blurb and thought “Aha! So that was their secret.” That all that was standing between me and artistic greatness was choice of stationery.

It is very nice though – with its smart black cover, bookmark and strip of elastic to keep it shut. It even has a little pocket at the back for keeping things in. I know what I am going to keep in it: THE RECEIPT THAT SAYS THAT I HAVE JUST SPENT £8.99 ON A NOTEBOOK!

Whatever I write on the first page needs to be something pretty profound. I cannot sully its virgin expanse with a gag about George Bush being a bit dim. But my mind is as blank as the paper. I caress the cover, trying to channel my more famous predecessors. Then, perhaps in the way that Picasso got the idea for cubism, inspiration strikes: “I have just spent £8.99 on a notebook...”