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3:44pm on Monday, 7th October, 2013:

Old Paper


I've been throwing out paper today. A4 pads, notebooks, exercise books, labels, card, coloured A4, graph paper, even some foolscap: they've gone for recycling.

The paper didn't have anything written on it. The point is, it never was going to get anything written on it, either.

No matter how much you like stationery (which in my case is a lot), eventually you have to accept that times have moved on and you don't need it as much as you used to need it. When I was a student, I would indeed use the 17 sheets of paper left over from an old 200-sheet pad with the wrong colour lines or margin, if only for rough. Nowadays, though, I do most of my writing on computers. My rough paper is the stuff I printed off by accident or that's now out of date.

When I do need actual paper to write on for taking notes (or anything else I might actually want to keep), I'll either use a reporter's notepad or 5mm-square A4. I've kept around half a dozen half-finished pads of each of these, but I must have thrown out a similar amount, perhaps slightly fewer. As for A4 ring-binder paper (narrow feint and margin), I had around 15 of those that I was never going to write on again. Some were easy to discard because they were yellowing or creased, but others were perfectly serviceable — I just know I'm never going to need them again.

Some of the paper dated from my student days. On the cover of the foolscap pad were some notes I'd made about things I needed to do to MUD. One pad, with plain paper in it, dated from my schooldays: I'd kept it not for reasons of nostalgia, but because I might conceivably have needed it for something. It turns out I didn't, and I now have several reams of gleaming printer paper I can use instead.

I did keep most of the hard-cover notebooks, even though I don't see my ever using them. I also kept a reasonable stock of day-glo paper, graph paper, accounts paper, carbon paper (some of which my dad gave me when I was about 12), coloured paper, self-adhesive labels, exotic notepads, ring-binder dividers, plus some materials I use for making games — coloured card, hex paper, that kind of thing.

Overall, I threw out a pile about 24 inches high but kept a pile about 16 inches high. There's still some more to go through on a different shelf, which includes index cards, envelopes and brown paper bags (hey, you have to keep your brown paper bags somewhere!). I think I'll wait until I've recovered before I tackle those, though: I'm a little in shock at the moment.

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).