What People Do All Day – Our Man In Parliament

Stationery reviews from inside the house

This post was written by Richard

Inspired perhaps by Richard Scarry’s “What do people do all day?” and the adventures of Farmer Alfalfa, Stiches the Tailor and Grocer Cat, our good friends at Bureau asked me to write a short piece about what I do all day. I can only imagine that this is the beginning of a soon to be much anticipated occasional blogpost about the goings-on—stationery related or otherwise—of the cast of thousands who call themselves Bureau’s happy customers.

My remit, such as it was, was to paint a brief but fascinating picture of my working day and to talk a little about where stationery fits into that. So…what do I do all day? Well, I work in Parliament. There are many, many things to enjoy about working there—the staff, the riverside location, the history—but, oddly, the thing I enjoy the most is the tourists. Sure, getting through the door in the morning can feel like facing off against the New England Patriots, but it’s buzzy and people are enjoying themselves just being there. Which is nice.

And what do I do once I actually get into the building? Well, all that talking, all that arguing, all that shouting you see on television—and all that sensible discussion you probably don’t see on television— gets written down somewhere. By someone. And that someone is me and my colleagues. We sit in on debates. We make sure all that talking gets recorded. And we make sure it all gets written up and checked. Throughout it all, we come and go quietly, trying not to draw attention to ourselves. In fact, one chairwoman even joked we were a bit like MI5—“only better.” High praise indeed. Perhaps it could be our motto.

Finally, I said this blog was about stationery, and so it is. I do a lot of writing at work, and I use a lot of stationery. Mostly, I use a Lamy Aion fountain pen with a beautiful turquoise Pilot Iroshizuku ink and an extra fine nib. Partly, I like the Aion’s unusual brushed black aluminium finish; partly, I like its impressive bulk. Oddly, though, the Aion’s not a heavy pen; quite the opposite. Its aluminium body makes it surprisingly light and easy to hold. And it’s well balanced, so it rests comfortably in my hand. The ink flow is great, too, which is really important, because I do a lot of writing under pressure.

I also use a Viking Rollo dotpad. The whole design shows an incredible attention to detail. The cover is beautifully minimal, the dots are subtle and unobtrusive, and sheets are really easy to detach. Most important of all, however, the paper is incredibly smooth.  Combined with the Aion and the Iroshizuku ink, it makes for a really lovely writing experience.

So, there you have it: my day. Perhaps less energetic than Farmer Alfalfa’s, but petty fun all the same—and with better stationery.

  1. Richard – It can get a bit over-heated in the House, what’s been your favourite way to describe a full-on verbal fist-fight between Honourable Members? 🙂

    1. Hi Alison. We type what people say. If anything happens that interrupts what people are saying – whether it’s someone slamming a door, a phone ringing or even a fight breaking out, although I’ve never seen that – we have one catch-all formulation: [Interruption.] Mostly you can guess from the context what’s happened; sometimes the source of the “Interruption” won’t be clear, which I suppose adds a little mystery to the whole thing.

  2. Are you a Hansard reporter? Interested that you seem to be using pen and paper to record debates. Do you write in shorthand? Is there not a push to have this directly input via laptop to on-line systems? If not, how does your record get from you to there?

  3. Everything is recorded digitally, but the people transcribing the recording need what we call a “log”, which is where the paper and pen come in. While the debate is going on, someone in the room will be writing down an outline of what is going on–principally things that aren’t immediately clear to someone who can’t see the proceedings. For example, we note down who is speaking and, if they refer to another “hon. Member”, who that is. We also note down anything that might need fact-checking or putting into our house style.

  4. like the conveneince of a cartridge refill your empty cartridge from a bottle using a syringe or buy one of the ink pen models that take a refillable cartridges and have the best of both worlds

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