"In France, these notebooks are known as carnets moleskines: `moleskine', in this case, being its black oilcloth binding. Each time I went to Paris, I would buy a fresh supply from a papeterie in the Rue de l'Ancienne Comedie. The pages were squared and the end papers held in place with an elastic band. I had numbered them in series. I wrote my name and address on the front page, offering a reward to the finder. To lose a passport was the least of one's worries: to lose a notebook was a catastrophe.
In 20 odd years of travel, I lost only two. One vanished on an Afghan bus. The other was filched by the Brazilian secret police, who, with a certain clairvoyance, imagined that some lines I had written - about the wounds of a Baroque Christ - were a description, in code, of their own work on political prisoners.
Some months before I left for Australia, the owner of the papeterie said that the vrai moleskine was getting harder and harder to get. There was one supplier: a small family business in Tours. `I'd like to order a hundred,' I said to Madame. She promised to phone Tours at once, that afternoon.
At five I kept my appointment with Madame. The manufacturer had died. His heirs had sold the business. She removed her spectacles and, almost with an air of mourning, said, `Le vrai moleskine n'est plus.' "
Willowgrain journal (in several colours), pounds 50; from Pickett Fine Leather, 32/33 and 41 Burlington Arcade, London W1 (0171-493 8939) and 149 Sloane Street, London SW1 (0171-823 5638)
Linen-covered plain paper notebooks in four sizes, pounds 4.25-pounds 10.50; from Paperchase, 213 Tottenham Court Road, London W1 (0181-580 8496)
Duotone plain-paper notebooks, small pounds 4.25 each; large pounds 10.50; from
Goatskin cahier roule (in blue, yellow, red and green), mini pounds 120, large pounds 160; from Hermes, 179 Sloane Street, London SW1 (0171-259 5191) and 155 New Bond Street, London W1 (0171-499 8856)
Above: full-calf bound journal, from pounds 280;
from Shepherds Bookbinders (0171-630 1184)Reuse content