Monday, July 17, 2006


I just needed a new notebook. For years I'd heard people raving about Moleskines, but being a sucker for a cute cover (preferably including cats or Liberty prints) I wasn't readily seduced by the idea of a sensible plain black notebook. But after the millionth namecheck often from people whose work I admire, I thought I'd get one just to see what all the fuss was about.

I was tempted by the new City Guides but although they're supposed to be out here, nobody seems to have them and there are plenty of Moleskine addicts who are really very distressed about this.
If you type Moleskine into Google you get 3,580,000 search results. I sniggered slightly as I read all the 'history' about Moleskines being the notebook used by Picasso, Van Gogh Bruce Chatwin and Hemingway. As if using the same brand of notebook is going to make you write *nothing but sensitive, intensely felt, promising prose.*
To capture reality on the move, pin down details, impress upon paper unique aspects of experience: Moleskine is a reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores discoveries and perceptions, and whose energy can be tapped over time.
Are they 'avin' a laugh 'cos I know I am?

I found pages and pages waxing lyrical about the clever elastic band that holds the notebook closed and the incredibly useful pocket in the back. Are those features really that mind blowing?

Anyway despite my mockery, for some reason I felt strangely compelled to go and get one of these babies the very next day. What was I missing out on? Shouldn't I have been using them for 'ages' but moved onto something else by now? I decided that the large plain notebook was 'my' Moleskine. Would it become as much a part of me as 'my' Muji pens or 'my' eggshell blue colour?
Thanks to the number of Moleskine obsessives on the internet I was able to locate the three cheapest outlets in London. I went to the first. They only had the squared ones, or small sizes. I went to Bureau. They only had memo pockets. I asked the man if they had any more. He immediately said,

'You want the large size plain notebook don't you?'
'Er, yes.'
'Oh, they're always sold out everywhere.'

I experienced the same feeling as the one when you love a pair of shoes but they don't have your size. There are people walking around wearing 'YOUR' shoes.

I had succumbed. I really desperately needed to own the large plain sized notebook. It would make me write nothing but sensitive, intensely felt, promising prose.

I went to Waterstone's. The manager (who had a well worn Moleskine stuffed with notes on the desk in front of him) said he always tried to keep the whole range in stock.
And in stock it was. I paid £11.99 for my notebook. I unwrapped it. I sniffed it. It smelt quite nice. The pages were off white and thin. The pocket in the back was just a cardboard pocket but handy nonetheless. I went 'hmm.'

I have still not broken into my Moleskine. So much pressure! I have the fear. The fear of beginning. Keri Smith writes about this exact thing -'first page fear' on her drawing faq. I finished my last notebook a couple of days ago but keep cramming notes onto any available space. 'Catflap' 'broccoli' and 'e mail Steve' are not the first things I want to sully its pristine pages.

*I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's many more times than was healthy as a teenager.
It's a bit scary how often phrases from it still pop in to my head as I go about my daily life. 'Nothing but sensitive, intensely felt, promising prose is what Paul Varjak/Fred (George Peppard) claims his typewriter produces every day. Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) catches him out (and his writers' block) by pointing out there isn't any ribbon in it.


Paola said...

I've never understood the Moleskine thing either. Maybe it's because they're nice, but not so nice that you don't want to use them.

I was given a beautiful Megan Park fabric-covered notebook and decided the other day that it really ought to be used. But it doesn't feel right filling it with To Dos and email addresses - only poetry written in an elegant script would be suitable - so in the last few days I've been reverting to Post It notes which sort of misses the point.

Moi said...

About your Breakfast at Tiffany's obsession, I am the same! When I read Paul's line, I recognized it instantly. Funny, I have just written a new post on my blog and I wrote "the mean reds" in it. I used to have BAT playing in my room non-stop sometimes, so I completely relate to your "problem."

"You can always tell what kind of a girl a man thinks you are by the earrings he gives you. I must say the mind reels"
But oh golly quel beast!

Anonymous said...

awww...i fell exatly the same i wasnt sure of the fuss but now that ive got myt hands on one of those little puppies im addicted!!

eurobrat said...

I've been thinking the same thing about Moleskines- I'd like to check out the city guides, but cannot find them anywhere.

*Love Waterstones. It is always my first stop when in England.

Lola is Beauty said...

moi - Im glad I'm not the only one with this affliction. It's always useful being top banana in the shock department!

Anonymous said...

I adore blank journals-- love getting all kinds and decoupaging the covers -- just dive in with your new one--- don't let it's yummyness keep you from inking it up!


Anonymous said...




gah gah gah