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Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Uniting the news

In extreme old age one has often learned to bear the bigger burdens; it’s the little things which cause paroxysms. A fragment of shell when you’re eating a boiled egg. An overused sliver of soap slips from your hands. Someone you loathe appears briefly on telly.

If your mind is still working (no guarantees of course) you acknowledge such mini-problems may be solved: a closer inspection of the boiled egg, discard the soap sliver for a new bar of Palmolive, mute the telly. But rage may delay such solutions.

Newspapers are on the way out, I won’t go into the reasons. To save money most UK newspapers took on the smaller – tabloid – format. Newspaper-lovers could bear this, but The Guardian went further. They did away with staples that hold the pages of the main section together. VR gets to read this section first (my treat) and through no fault of hers I inherit it in a crumpled and separated state. A small matter but infuriating.

It took me at least eighteen months (mostly lockdown) to realise I needed a stapler. I’m a tidy person – mostly – and I have had one throughout my adult life. But this needed to be different, a long-arm stapler capable of arching over a whole newspaper page to reach the centre of a two-page spread.

Deploying the long-arm stapler takes care. Misalign the staples and the pages don’t turn properly. A large unimpeded work surface is essential. The whole process takes about a minute and I’m occasionally self-conscious. Am I being too anal?

Sometimes I’m distracted and forget. VR never grumbles. It’s a solution but not exactly a comfort. The stapler cost £12. Plus a ridiculously excessive £4.50 p&p. Which… irritates me.


  1. It really. breaks my heart that newspapers are on the way out. I've watched them get smaller and smaller, and of course become irrelevant. Not the work of reporters, which is still utterly essential in this age of misinformation, but the news in print form. Glad you got a stapler that works to keep the paper together for you.

  2. robin andrea: I'm even more heart-broken. For the first five years of my career in journalism I worked on newspapers. There's nothing quite like it although it can be very stressful; I doubt I'd still be alive if I'd continued. As it was I went into magazines.

    Stapling the pages together is a small matter but it does evoke earlier times when The Guardian could afford to do the stapling itself.

  3. You are being too anal, RR...

  4. Avus: Yes, yes, yes, it's a minor discomfort but there's no reason why I should put up with it. I'm frequently astonished by the people I meet - almost all elderly, old or moribund - who place no value on their own comfort. Hanging on to old "things" simply out of sentiment, when it's clear they're no longer fit for purpose. Furniture especially. An acquaintance, on principle, never pays for parking. Would prefer to grind out endless futile circles on busy urban streets looking for a "freebie". Such phenomena have become rarer and rarer in Hereford. Within the last year the Council, beset by covid economics, have decided to eliminate "freebies"; Hard on some.

  5. Seemingly endless years as an unstapled broadsheet left you unperturbed? Much harder to get those oldies back into pristine condition - but perhaps you didn't give up first dibs back then. I like the look of the stapler though,and suspect its daily minute is quite satisfying. Three staples per edition?

    1. MikeM: Funnily enough, it was never a problem with unstapled broadsheets; this may have been due to the fact that they were sold folded horizontally across the middle, the fold seemed to lock the pages together. Even re-lock them if someone else had had - as you surprisingly say (I thought it was an British phrase) - first dibs.

      The stapler is well designed and the arm length seems to have been conceived with tabloid newspapers in mind. Three staples? Yes. But here's the added value: the third staple lies between the other two and is inserted from the other side of the newspaper. Belt and braces, you see.

  6. Thank you for the post! I just finished reading it up and am very excited to KPR Night Light Bluetooth Speaker the following series. Just wanted to let you know that your posts/thoughts/articles give me invaluable insights! I cannot really be thankful enough for all that you do! Currently finishing up your Narratives & Numbers as well. What a Gem as well!