Wednesday, September 19, 2012


English: 3 ring binder (opened)

English: 3 ring binder (opened) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am relieved to be able to say that there has been some resolution to my latest outburst of absent-mindedness.

Having searched high and low throughout my modest apartment for several days to find my missing copy of How Eagle & Cuckoo Save America: The Beginning, I finally plowed through a pile of to be read paper on my desk, only to find the missing manuscript. It then came back to me that I had borrowed the binder – as opposed to the contents - for another purpose.

I blush; and hang my head in shame! Well, metaphorically. Realistically, I just feel damn stupid. Clearly, I need more ring-binders.

I first encountered ring-binders at school, and they transformed my approach to note-taking, as well as consuming a significant percentage of my pocket money. Not sure at all why I was so dedicated, but in those days I took astonishingly good notes, and learned accordingly. The man who taught me the art of good note-taking was a rather pompous history teacher at Ampleforth called Mr. Dan. I owe that superficially uninspiring man a great deal. Few could appear to be so dull, yet teach so well. 

The trick where exams were concerned, I discovered – it was never formally explained – was not to re-gurgitate one’s notes (everyone did that), but to use them as memory prompts. If I could recall a heading, in my mind, it would morph into a visual impression of the heading, which I would then describe. There are severe disadvantages to dyslexia – which I know to my cost – but there are advantages too.

These days, I have mainly switched to electronic filing, but I still like to print out the last few versions of each manuscript of each book I write, insert them in a ring-binder, review them in that form, and keep the final printed copy for the record.

Given the ever increasing popularity of electronic readers – a trend I support – I don’t know how long the writer’s special affection for paper will last – but I am of a generation which still regards that extraordinary material with some wonder.

When you pick up your first published printed book, riffle through its pages, and recall the years of effort that went into it, you will understand.

Will the sight of one’s first e-book up on Amazon deliver the same thrill? I’ll let you know when I know.

Should be soon now.







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