Swapping was a major part of my childhood. Any eighties Irish child will tell you. Going to an all girls’ primary school meant you had to bring a certain type of swag. To swop. ‘Trade’ as they say in the States. (We never said ‘trade’. You would get funny looks and maybe a pinch on the leg if you came out with such assumed pretensions). No. We were Swoppers. Not just swapping any old thing. Oh no. Not stamps, sucky sweets or Sweet Valley High (that came later). We had a niche. Paper. Swapping paper. Fancy paper, would you believe. It wasn’t for writing on. Or playing with. No it was for looking at. For status. As you can tell, this childhood culture craze had a significant influence on me in 1986. Every small newsagents carried a selection of these notebooks. I remember buying them in Easons for thirty pence. Hence the birth of the girl behind the blog. Fancy Paper and the House of Paper.
An early memory of mine is the day I arrived at school with an A-team fancy paper book. I had been to Dublin at the weekend. Actual Dublin. My mother had bought me this in a shop and I can remember it clearly as she insisted on that particular one. I reckon it was on sale. Not knowing any better, I just liked getting new things, I happily went with it. A new notebook crammed full of delicious fancy pages! I had it ready for Swap Time on Monday morning. Plain white paper with brown mathematical linings, the A-Team were only a small logo in the bottom right hand corner. It wasn’t exactly ornate. It wasn’t even fragranced. That didn’t matter. I was attacked from the yard to the school door. A maths notebook has never been so popular. A plethora of cries, swop ya, swop ya, give you two for one! I had never even willingly watched the A-team. You don’t even like them, one green with envy seven year old criticised, calling me out on my feigned coolness. I was an animal girl. Books. Dolls. Not an 80s legend girl. Myself and the the ripped cover of a former fancy paper book dedicated to Mr T. made it through the door, shaken and forgotten, with a oasis of prettier pages in its place.
It was a pleasant surprise to find out that an Irish girl, Aoife, an original midlander like myself, had started a business based on the eighties playground craze. She contacted me, having found me via Twitter, very much due to my Twitter hanger- @fancypapergirl. It made me smile to receive the message and make contact. Swapums deal in little pretty packages of actual fancy paper pages sent to your door. Except for the online and delivery elements, it was just like the old days! We made facebook friends and had a little chat (where we discovered the midlands connection). Then she said she would send me a sample of the actual product which I thought was a very sweet offer. No request for a review, no conditions. Just a nice gesture. Aoife’s inspiration is something many of us can identify with. Read it here: About Swapums.
Now isn’t that a lovely read?
I had almost forgotton they were coming.
Until this evening, when I got home and had received a large pink envelope with a sweet aroma of my past lingering in its wake.
Perfumed paper. Scent of marshmallow? Lavender? Roses? An aroma of the eighties, our eighties, something that had toddled its way out of the past and was right there in my present reminding me of being a little girl. The smell I associate with pink.
Does pink have a scent? Purple even? Something fruity maybe. Candy dusted. Daisy based. Eighties flowers: primroses, cowslips, buttercups. I know- they still exist! In the eighties however they were central to the life of a little girl who lived with a meadow for a back garden and could be found hiding in the top corner of said field with an old silverware case, full of fancy paper. Fairies and puppies, flowers and kittens- a plethora of vintage cuteness.
The little packets from Swapums have a combination of older style pieces.
Alongside these are a pleasant modern take on fancy paper. Quirkier, primary coloured cats. Afternoon tea. Bird prints. Fancy Paper for a new generation.
A tiny taste of the past.
You receive a pink paper envelope with the logo and a big old heart on the front. Inside are about ten pieces of ornately designed pages that made me a bit squealy. They are just so pretty.
I like the idea and the product. It is sweet! Maybe our playgrounds might one day be filled again with little innocent beings arguing over how many scratch n’ sniff pages are worth a jasmine scented Strawberry Shortcake page and matching envelope set. Maybe.
Jasmine. Talcum powder. Violets. The days when candles were for power cuts and a scented candle was only a pipe dream. Time travel through a piece of paper. Albeit fancy paper.
I am impressed by the business venture of Swapums. Fancy Paper collectors of the past can enjoy a blast of nostalgia (or better again) introduce their children to a simple, innocent and social tradition from our own past. Truly a little thing that makes me happy.
Good luck Swapums!