Yesterday I overheard a middle aged woman lamenting to a friend why something or other was so “excruciatingly middle class”. She did this whilst: 1. Sipping an espresso macchiato in Carluccio’s’ 2. Ostentatiously making notes in her Moleskine notepad.
Yes, that’s right, two utterly middle class affectations indulged simultaneously without the slightest sense of irony. Funny really.
None of which is my immediate concern. I’m a Moleskine user too. Or, more accurately, I’m a Moleskine hoarder. I like them like everyone else because they look purposeful, artistic and handsome.
Two things trouble me though.
One is the Moleskine Effect. For anyone over 25, seeking this is surely pathetic. The idea (I imagine, since every Moleskine comes with a little leaflet listing the various literary and artistic gods who have ‘carried’ one), is that when you casually slip a Moleskine from your battered satchel and ponder it thoughtfully over an espresso, other sippers will imagine you’re a latter-day Chatwin or Hemingway.
Second is the difficulty I seem to have in actually using a Moleskine. I buy a normal notepad or sketchbook; I start scribbling away. But the Moleskine sits there with its lovely wrapper and explanatory leaflet (Classic Hard Cover, built-in elastic closure, cloth ribbon placeholder, expandable accordion pocket for holding tickets, notes and clippings) demanding that you fill its first page with something much more profound than ‘Things to get at Homebase’, or a five minute sketch of next door’s conservatory (done at a recent low point of artistic stimulus). It calls out for something Chatwin- or Picasso-esque.
Hence the growing pile of pristine Classics, Volants and Cahiers.
When I do self-consciously get a Moleskine underway the jottings peter out a few pages in. I know I’m going to have persevere, not least because there is a considerable investment tied up in these unused Moleskines (Father’s Day, Christmas and birthdays will bring more).
So the other morning I went out into the garden and told myself “to hell if I write something trite or ruin my new Moleskin with a crap drawing”. I sat down on our bench and drew next door’s conservatory and our lap-larch fence. It was crap and I knew it. I picked up my latest Moleskine and went back inside feeling just that bit more more artistically defeated.