Sunday, December 12, 2004
Things I Miss From England, #1

I miss A4 paper.

I'm picky about my stationery; I don't like to write with or on just any old thing. I have a leather pencil case in my bag at all times, stocked with everything from gel pens to fluid-ink rollerballs to cartridge-fed fountain pens, and even a wooden stylus with a set of brass nibs, just to ensure that I have the appropriate tool to hand when the urge or need to write something arises. I also keep at least two notebooks with me at all times -- I'm particularly fond of Moleskine journals 'cause they feel nice and they hold up much better to the chaos inside my bag than most.

This has been true since I was fairly young, and while there are few things more satisfying than a virgin sheet of paper, I always felt there was something awkward about the paper I had available. Standard American paper is 8 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches long (roughly 21.5 cm by 28 cm), so oddly square-ish. Legal pads, which are 3 inches longer (and too long for use away from a table), are only a partial improvement, and suffer because it's hard to find any that aren't both ugly and cheap.

So when I got to London and found that the most commonly-available paper was A4 -- long enough to give you space to change your train of thought several times without having to cross yourself or squeeze your writing at the margins; wide enough to accomodate two columns (or three if you write really small) -- I believed I was home at last. A4 felt natural, it felt like someone had actually put some thought into it. Maybe there are people in the world who prefer 8.5 x 11, but if there are, I don't think I want to meet them. Philistines.

Anyway, because I just feel like it, here are a couple of sample pages from my old film school A4 notebook. (Click the images for a larger version... and no, I don't remember what any of this was about.)



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