Memories of stationery stores past

Wednesday March 26, 2008

20080328_pencilsharpener.jpgI just emptied my old-fashioned pencil sharpener and the room is suddenly filled with the scent of pencil shavings.  My memory is stimulated, or irritated if you prefer, ranging up and down the years, over half a century, from the pencil sharpening corner of the math class in my primary school, through a whole series of stationery cupboards and finishing up in a stationery store in an office building in the Old Bailey where… well, there’s no need to go into detail.

Makes a chap pause and think for a bit, though.

Anyway, another eventless day.  Graham called into the agent briefly, to check things out.  He’d gone into the town centre to post off an eBay packet.  Came back to pick me up at Sainsbury’s.  He’d seen a notice in the post office advertising for part-time post office counter work and is rather taken with the idea as a means of boosting his pocket money while we wait for a sale.  Leastways, that’s what he says.  I reckon that, whether he knows it or not, the inactivity of our present phase is getting to him and he needs something concrete to keep him occupied.

Me, I’m happy enough twiddling my thumbs and remembering stationery stores past.


16 responses to “Memories of stationery stores past

  1. Postman Graham! Rumpumpumpumpum,pum… (not quite with a black and white cat, lol)

  2. How’s about a grey on grey one? 🙂

  3. you know as I was walking away from my desk I was singing it with ‘grey and white cat’ (to some bemused looks from my colleagues) (just in case he didn’t make it all the way around the world)

  4. Glad Lou put the link in there…didn’t quite know what you both were talking about, ha!

    Over here, you’d have to take the ‘civil service’ exam before you could get a job at the post office, then be on a waiting list and also you’d be on the bottom of the seniority list. In other words – you’d best have another job while waiting for a job at the post office to open up! lol!

  5. Kate summed it up for postal workers here. Retired military usually have the best shot too.
    Me, I’m like you on twiddling thumbs. 🙂

  6. While all the nice folks are chuckling at the Postman Pat image, I’m grinning at you remembering days of being naughty in the back corner of the stationery store . . .

  7. One of my most secret dreams as a child was to run a stationery store. Now I’d be happy with a pencil sharpener too… 🙂

  8. That picture of your pencil sharpener gave me a memory jolt of my own. There was one just like that on my teacher’s desk, where we used to go when our pencils got blunt. I loved the ‘scritch, scritch, scritch’ sound as I wound the handle. 🙂

  9. Ah! The pencil sharpener of Ye Olden Days. I’ve got one of those, John, but mine has to be screwed to the wall. I haven’t put it up here but it’s still with me. Somewhere. I love it. I love the smell of the wood when the pencil is sharpened. And the utterly glorious feeling when you pull out a perfectly sharpened point. Thanks for the memory.

  10. John, just the mention of emptying the pencil sharpener immediately snapped me back to primary school. I can hear the sound of pencils being sharpened by hand; I can smell the aroma of ground cedar and graphite; I can see the shavings tumbling out into the garbage can. I can even feel the clump of shavings that always get stuck in the bottom of the sharpener housing and have to be teased out with a finger. wow.

    Lou, Postman Pat (and his black and white cat) made it to Canada. 😀

  11. You have given me two reasons why I should move back to the UK. No 1, I want to buy your house, and then No2 I could apply for that PO job because I managed a sub PO when I was 17.
    It was in Mitcham and housed in a chemist shop.
    Many, many years ago but how I loved that job………..

  12. All this post office talk made me think of my dad. He worked in the post office for years and years. My brother retired from there a few years ago. I miss my dad.

    I have an electric pencil sharpener, and it does a lousy job … I think I need one of the old ones from my school days.

  13. It’s neat how a scent can bring back a memory, so vividly. One of my favorites is the smell of wax and it always makes me think of ski shops when I was younger and we went on winter vacations.

  14. Amazing what a few molecules of graphite and wood can conjure! I am right back in grade school when I smell it. The grind, grind, grinding of my youth down to a nub. A sharp memory. Very pointed remembrances. Never a dull moment. Stop me… please. Seriously, though, I enjoy your posts.


  15. That old pencil sharpener reminds me of the parochial school I attended. I am reminded of the smell of whatever they mopped the hardwood floors with, and the chalk dust that flew all over when we cleaned the erasers.

    Simple things make us pause and think, don’t they?


  16. I enjoy visiting your blog on a regular basis. Thank your today’s memory jolt. It is wonderful how things long forgotten can return to mind so vividly.

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