Friday, August 8, 2014

Claire Sandy takes office supplies to the max!

We're pleased to feature Claire Sandy today at CLC. She has a fun guest post about her obsession with office supplies to share with us.

Claire Sandy lives in Surrey with a husband and a daughter and loves lots of things, such as baking, reading, writing, eating, chatting about matters of global importance with her nine year old, dressing up her dog and inventing new things to do with gin. She's worked at many things - advertising, radio jingles, a wool shop - and thanks her lucky stars that writing What Would Mary Berry Do? involved every single item on her list of loved things.

Marie Dunwoody doesn't want for much in life. She has a lovely husband, three wonderful children, and a business of her own. Except, her cupcakes are crap. Her meringues are runny and her biscuits rock-hard. She cannot bake for toffee. Or, for that matter, make toffee.

Marie can't ignore the disappointed looks any more, or continue to be shamed by neighbour and nemesis, Lucy Gray. Lucy whips up perfect profiteroles with one hand, while ironing her bed sheets with the other. Marie's had enough: this is the year it all changes. She vows to follow - to the letter - recipes from the Queen of Baking and at all times ask 'What would Mary Berry do?'

Husband Robert has noticed that his boss takes crumb structure as seriously as budget sheets and so puts on the pinny: serious redundancies are on the horizon. Twins Rose and Iris are happy to eat all the half-baked mistakes that come their way, but big brother Angus is more distant than usual, as if something is troubling him. And there is no one as nosey as a matching pair of nine-year-old girls...

Marie starts to realise that the wise words of Mary Berry can help her with more than just a Victoria Sponge. But can Robert save the wobbling soufflé that is his career? And is Lucy's sweet demeanour hiding something secretly sour?

*** This is a work of fiction, in no way endorsed by Mary Berry, and where neither Mary Berry herself nor her recipes feature. ***

Who needs crack cocaine when there are mini-highlighters to sniff?

Scratch a writer and you'll find a stationery addict. I could turn down a night with Ryan Gosling* with barely a shrug, but leave a trail of patterned Post-It Notes and you can lead me straight to Hell. The Paperchase website obsesses me in the way porn sites obsess strange old men who live alone. I click constantly, browsing first the perfumed glitter pens, then the pencil-end erasers that look like food, before spending far too long comparing the many, many sharpeners available to the modern woman.

Stationery is so reliable. It sits on your desk, waiting for you to start work. "Here I am!" says my A4 pad - lines exactly the right height, paper the correct weight, cover sufficiently funky - and "Let's get cracking!" shouts my array of felt tips - some thin, some thick - while my wacky paperclips jostle good naturedly in a dish. They all have a highly specific job to do. I would never dream of highlighting, for example, with a thick felt tip, just as I wouldn't use a paperclip with a fox's face on it to clip together my chapter plans; the fox clips are for character pages. (Chapter plans are held together with dog paper clips; I could hear you wondering.)

Just like shoes, handbags and really good black trousers that hold in your tummy, you can never have enough stationery. It's not so cheap that you buy it unthinkingly but not so pricey that you have to think twice. Stationery shopping is truly satisfying. For a start, it always fits, and there isn't a jotter in the world that'll make your bum look big. Squealing I'll take one in every colour! in a shoe shop will break the bank but applying the same rule to gel fineliners is easily do-able.

Yes, there are bad days. I still shudder when I recall my morose wander around a Llandudno newsagent, muttering Nothing, goddamit, there's NOTHING to buy. I can barely look at the Hello Kitty! pencil case I finally selected. I know, and the pencil case knows, that ours is not a true love.

A new pad sits waiting for me to finish this. As soon as I stop typing, I'll unwrap the crackling cellophane and stroke its smooth, new cover, taking a while to admire the on-trend grey and neon-green design. Then, with reverence, I'll open it up, write the date at the top of the first creamy, perfectly clean and empty page. And we'll be off, my stationery and I, on another project.

* I couldn't turn down a night with Ryan Gosling.

Thanks to Claire for visiting with us today. She's making us look forward to buying school supplies!

What is your obsession? Tell us, just for fun!


Connie said...

I'm a greeting card freak. I love to search for the perfect card for friends and family and send them out. My calendar is loaded with everyone's birthday, anniversary, and other significant events. I feel like everyone needs to be feted on their special day.

This novel sounds great and I look forward to reading it. I love to bake and maybe I might learn a tip or two!

Suus said...

I love all things kawaii!
I'm currently reading this book and love it!