Yesterday in Paperchase

Pelikano Füllfederhalter
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I spend a tiny bit too much time in Shepherd’s Bush at weekends. Westfield is my second home, to the extent that I know the location of pretty much every single one of the 300 shops in it – I’ve never not known the answer when asked for directions. Yesterday, I actually wanted to buy some nice printer paper and a shredder, but ended up buying some pricy air freshener from the White Company, some new shoes, and various organisers from Paperchase. I love Paperchase; full of nice colourful notebooks and cards which seem completely essential. I was quite tempted to buy an old-fashioned box of flip cards with alphabetical separators to use as an address book, but people don’t really share addresses any more anyway, so it seems a bit pointless.

Anyway, once I’d picked up my little plastic wallets to organise exciting stuff like receipts and bank statements, I also decided to pick up a Lamy fountain pen, for nostalgic reasons. The man standing in front of me in the queue seemed quite taken with this, and started asking me what I did for a living. I guess he thought that since I was enthusiastically discussing all the different kinds of paper and pens with my friend, I must be involved in something to do with writing. I told him I was self-employed, hence the focus on stuff to organise my paperwork, “such a hassle, tax”.

He said he knew the feeling, as he used to run a tutoring business. He asked me what my business was. “I’m an IT consultant”. He didn’t really know what to do with that answer, having clearly expected something a tad closer to his own realm of experience.

“So what do you do now”, I asked him. He was quite attractive, if a little jumpy.

“I’m a teacher”.

“Ah well”, I said, “that’s a logical next step”.

“Yes. I’m not sure what the logical  next step is for you though, unless you turn into a computer”.

I had no reply to this. I could have wittily remarked on fictional scenarios where people become part of the software, ( e.g. Tron, The Matrix, AI, Existenz, many of Asimov’s short stories), but I got the feeling my lack of creative occupation had put him off, and he just stared awkwardly at the floor. Shame really, meeting someone in a stationery shop would have been an ideal start.

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