At the moment, I feel quite tired out and unenthused about rejoining the fray: the Bright-Eyed Boy returns to school later this week, leaving daughter #3 and myself to make a few desultory trips for new school uniform before she goes back next week. Then I am on my own again, facing the HUGE responsibility of becoming a full-time, fully-funded PhD student at the beginning of October. Ulp! (That, and daughter #2's wedding which is scheduled for a fortnight's time) No doubt I'll perk up once relieved of my quotidien maternal resposibility. Perhaps I should buy some new stationery goods to symbolise my new 'start'. I remember from my schooldays that a new pencil-case and jotter always seemed to promise a new, improved term-time identity, a new commitment to study and enthusiasm. I was always baffled by those who chose to cling on to their scruffy old pencil-cases and eschewed new goods: were they deliberately embracing asceticism as a style-choice or simply unable to appreciate the frisson generated by minor self-indulgence? Probably neither - they just weren't as neurotic as me, and no doubt their lives have gone on to be models of rectitude and fiscal commonsense.
I was mesmerised in the outbound airport by a rack of Moleskine goods of every size. Had I not been going on my holidays (rather than returning from them) I would no doubt have plundered the display for another large floppy-back 18-month diary (week per page). I've been using one of these for over a year now and am very conscious that it runs out at Christmas and I haven't seen one locally. I love it: it's now covered in my erratic handwriting in various different inks and is full of useful website addresses, quotes, references and bibliographic essentials. My supervisor expressed a modicum of surprise that I 'did everything longhand'. I don't - at least not 'proper' work -but I've never mastered the art of cyber-notes - where do they all go? Everything that has caught my imagination or attention is there to see and, most usefully, I can usually visualise a particular item's whereabouts on the page or pen-colour which makes its retrieval much easier than snatching it back out of the ether. It is a real vade mecum, a commonplace, a forum, a repository of knowledge, ideas and the springboard of thought. And much as I love the functionality and range of my laptop, it will never replace my diary.