25 June 2011

Reader Under the Spotlight - Thomas

Yes the series is back for another run of readers going under the Philofaxy Spotlight. The first willing volunteer is Thomas from Germany, being my fellow 'co-star' recently, he hardly needs any introduction does he.....!

My name is Thomas, for those following me (or not) on Twitter @Tommes_S. I'm a true Filofax user and into everything internet as well since the mid-nineties. I have a blog of my own at http://tommes-s.net.

Most entries are in German, because my addressed readers are mostly German friends and family. Lately, there have been some English entries as well. You are welcome to read and comment, but I have to admit that most topics aren't Filofax-related.

And I would like to say thank you to Philofaxy for the honour of being a 'Reader under the Spotlight'!

1. When did you buy your first Filofax and what was it?

My first Filofax was a Personal Richmond, which I bought in 1998. Unfortunately, I bought it via internet, because I wanted a genuine Filofax very badly. It looked alright on the photos. But, when it was sent too me, I was pretty disappointed. The colour was so much different, and the 'touch' was just not right. I still use it as an archive for note paper to refill my everyday Filofax. And guess what? It still does not lay flat after 13 years...

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?

My very first planner was a no name brand. I bought it 1992 just because I didn't have the money for a Filofax. It was at a reasonable price, but didn't last too long, because it showed traces of use very soon, and - I do have to admit I was a pioneer of cream inside a planner - I poured yoghurt in it...
I have never thought of using anything else after buying my first Filofax. I tend to be true to a brand, once I'm decided.

Besides my Filofax, I use a lot of Moleskine notebooks. I have a couple of plain ones, which I generally use in my job. Lately I have bought a Moleskine Passion notebook 'Gardening' to keep track of my bonsai developments.

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?

My everyday Filofax has been the Personal Hamilton right from the start. It's similar to the Kendal, oiled leather, almost no 'plastic', and it has two pen loops. Actually, this was the very reason why I was so enthusiastic about it. But the sections are very comfortable for me as well. It's got a card section in the front, plus a big pocket over the whole front with an opening from the right. Lots of space! It has a zipper pocket in the back and another 'full size' pocket on the outer back side. After 12 years, it still has a great 'touch', and I haven't been tempted to replace it, so far. There are some pictures of it at http://twitpic.com/photos/Tommes_S

4. How many Filofax organisers do you own?

Right now I have three Filofax organisers: the Personal Richmond, the Personal Hamilton, and a newly acquired Malden Mini. I'm not sure if any may follow...

5. What do you use your Filofax for?

As mentioned above, the Richmond contains a lot of note papers to refill my Hamilton. The Hamilton is my everyday planner, and it contains almost everything I need: diary, notes, addresses and contacts, lots of 'useful' information sheets and notes, some passwords, a collection of loose sheets, quotes, tons of Post-it's, a fountain pen and a pencil, some money cards, a 10 and a 5 euro note for emergency, to-do lists and things to remember. It's very 80ies style - if I lose it, my life would be ruined ;-)
Lately, I have given up the idea of 'One life - one planner'.

Inspired by Steve using a Mini as a wallet/purse, I bought a Mini Malden at the London meet up in March 2011. It now serves as my accounting Filofax. When travelling, it's the holiday purse, which is sometimes most useful when I have to use foreign currencies. Now I don't have to mix them with the money in my regular purse. Being at home, I use it to keep track of my expenses. So it's definitely a one-trick-pony, but it's doing a great job! And it might become more involved in the 'happiness project'...

6. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

When I started using a planner, Filofax was THE brand, probably also driven by the movie. Although my first planner was no genuine Filofax, all my inserts were 'originals'! It's just the variety and versatility you get from them. I still believe that they create the broadest range of things you can put into and use. They even set a standard with the ring sizes, you can buy a lot of different accessories from other brands, that still fit in a Filofax. And yes, I have accessories from other brands.

Over all, I think it's the flexibility it provides you, by giving you the chance to create a planner as individual as possible, with a wide range of styles and sizes. And of course, the individuality can be best experienced at a Philofaxy meet up!

7. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

Well, I'm male and practically oriented, so it would most likely be an 'all-in-one device for every purpose' - an 'egg laying, wool and milk producing pig', as we say in German;) It must contain the best of every model Filofax has ever produced. And so it will remain a dream forever...

8. How do you carry your Filofax?

Well, this has been a major topic at the London meet up in March 2011. For the Mini Malden I don't have any special way of carrying it around. It's just put in my pocket or the backpack. Since it's a Mini, there's no problem at all, it fits anywhere.

With the Personal Hamilton it's quite different. The oiled leather tends to catch any possible scratch and even more;) But, on the other hand, since it is oiled, every scratch can be easily removed with a slightly moistured cloth/finger or anything else.

But as picky as I am, I'm in constant fear some severe damage could harm my beloved Filofax. So usually it's in my office bag, which has a cloth coated interior. Nothing can happen. When travelling, it's normally in a backpack, being tossed around and colliding with other items. This has been a true horror for me!

So I was looking around for some sort of 'protective case', but couldn't find any. In the end, I decided to make one of my own. There is a 'how to do' on my website, as well - if anyone else should care...

9. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

I think it is definitely the Malden! It's the look, the touch, the scent, and the colours - just gorgeous! I have bought a Mini Malden recently, so there are no plans to buy another one...

10. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax? Which model?

That must have been around 90 Euros for the Personal Hamilton. Filofax planners used to be more expensive in the past, but when I bought it, it was a reduced, because discontinued one.

11. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

In fact, Philofaxy is a great example for an on line community! We share a common interest, and are highly engaged in the topic. The website itself is so packed with information, and still the authors are doing a great job in rising new(s) issues.

I love the various series, and I am always amazed how many users take part in the discussions. It's most amazing how many people post a comment for the first time. It clearly shows the great acceptance of the website, its idea of a community, and 'the love of everything Filofax'! And I definitely agree with Steve, who recently said that it would be great to transform this Philofaxy community into one's real life situation.

Last but not least, the meet ups are definitely a point I love about Philofaxy!

12. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

The website, the editors, the contributors, and the readers - everything is perfect! If I had one wish for free, it would be an annual worldwide Philofaxy convention with all of you ;-)

13. What was the last music album CD you bought or downloaded?

My last CD was 'I find you very attractive' by 'Touch and go', a CD I was long looking for, because it wasn't available as a (legal) download. It's electronic and dance oriented pop music from the nineties. I'm really a 80ies and 90ies guy!

My last download was a concert from the German punk band 'Die Toten Hosen' (the dead trousers), recorded unplugged in Vienna. A great piece of music!

Thank you Thomas (my old mate!), I look forward meeting up again in September in London Town. 


  1. Great interview, Thomas! It's always great to hear about the readers, but in my opinion, the Philofaxy men especially, since it seems the female population heavily outweighs the male. Male usage and collection of the Filofax seems to be a bit different from the ladies' (generally speaking), and so I always enjoy reading about it. But I love reading about anyone's Filofax experiences. =)

  2. Thomas - it was great meeting you at the Philofaxy meet up in London and seeing your fabulous Hamilton. You should do a post on how you use it and in particular those gorgeous printed tabs/dividers.

    I would love a comparison of the Kendal vs. the Hamilton. After seeing your Hamilton I bought my brother the next best thing, a Kendal.

    I am looking forward to catching up again in September at the next Philofaxy meet up.

  3. Great interview Thomas! I really enjoyed reading all about you. It was so much fun meeting you at the last meet up and I am looking forward to the one in September :-)

  4. Hi Thomas,
    A great interview. Would love to see a photo post about your Hamilton too. I looked at your cover for it, and the sewing plan to make it, but didn't look for very long at your Filofax at the London meet up.
    It was great to meet you and to read a spolight post from a Philofaxy chap.

  5. An excellent an interview. I'm new to FF and Philofaxy, and have a basic newbie question. I'm trying to decide between a black Finsbury Slimline and a black Finsbury Personal [although, I have my eye on the Malden Ochre]. Unfortunately, I do not live in an area where I can go and look and feel the FF. While I'm confident you could spin me a story to get both and have me convinced, my question is does anyone find the larger rings in the Personal intrusive when writing? My dilemma is the Slimeline's rings are a bit small, but I don't want to be bothered while writing by the larger rings of the Personal. My use will basically be appointments, notes, journalling. Again, what an excellent Web site. Thank you.

  6. Hi, Thomas - great interview! I am new to Philofaxy - but not to Filofax ;-). Especially thank you for sharing the pattern for the "Filofax Travel Pack"! I' ll go and buy the material tomorrow and will try to do something similar for my Belmont. I can understand your fears about severe damage to a treasured Filo quite well, and so I am happy - with your permission - to copy your idea!

  7. Excellent interview - amazing the variety of ways we all use our filofaxes!


    This is one of those fundamental questions when choosing a filofax. It's very hard to know for sure before you start using one, exactly which size will suit you best. That's probably why most of us end up with more than one filofax - we had to try a few before we found the perfect match.

    I am right handed and find it quite annoying to write on the left hand page of my personal filofax, because of the rings getting in the way. My solution to this is to use blank paper as much as possible, rather than pre-printed, write only on the right hand side and turn pages over when finished. This is quite economica too. But it only works for some uses - projects, notes, to dos, etc. Diary pages and addresses won't work this way. So then I just have to put up with it. I still think it is worth it, because of the flexibility that the rings give. But most of my writing is done on the blank paper.

    The slimline filofaxes are lovely but they hold far fewer pages, so it depends whether that would be enough for you. I do have a slimline, but it just isn't big enough - I need my filofax to be an 'everything' book. I imagine it could work if you don't mind removing your notes and journalling pages quite regularly, so it doesn't get too full.

    Sorry there is no easy answer - this is one of those filofax dilemmas that we all struggle with!

    juliet.lima xx

  8. @dapv - I am a huge fan of the slimlines as I don't mind carrying around 2 months of diary at a time although it can be limiting when I need to carry extra information.

    I have recently received a Compact size with the slightly larger rings (15mm) and it is amazing how much extra room those 2mm make. It is an alternative albeit an expensive one but worth considering if it is going to be your everyday filo.

  9. juliet.lima & Saffy: Thank you both for the quick responses.

    Juliet: I like you idea to "write only on the right hand side and turn pages over when finished". I'm right handed as well.

    Saffy: I was sort of thinking like you re: the Slimline, and I am also considering the Compact, albeit, limited here in USA.

    Unfortunately, I live in an area where looking at and holding FF's up close is not possible. Hence, I'm at the mercy of the internet, but do have kind folks like both of you to help me along the way.

    Thank you, both, again. I will let you know how it turns out for me.

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  11. Hi Thomas

    Great post - thank you!

    I also have an oiled leather Filofax, mine is a Hampstead, which I bought in around 1998. It still look as good as it did when I bought it, and is the main reason why I've resisted various temptations to 'upgrade'! It was replaced, I think, by the Kendal, but it's perfect for me.

    I can carry a personal size Filo, but the A5 would be really too much. Also, the Personal fits perfectly into both my weekend bag and the front pocket of my (also brown leather) laptop bag and briefcase. I don't need to go smaller that the Personl, and anything larger is too bulky to carry, which is why I'm still a personal size user after all these years!

    Loved the track by Die Toten Hosen....where can I find that unplugged concert to download?!

    Thanks again for the post, and for your regular comments on Twitter, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue!

    Best wishes as ever


  12. Great interview - enjoyed reading it. Look forward to meeting up in September.

  13. Thanks for your interview, Thomas!

  14. Hi everybody,

    and thank you all so much for your very kind comments! It was very much fun writing the answers. I have to admit, that I thought it would be easier, when I read the other RutS... ;) But I really enjoyed it!

    It's a great pleasure that you like my travel case, it's actually easy to make. @Sari: you're welcome to use the plan, I hope it works out fine for you!

    @dapv: I totally understand you! As my Filofax starts with the diary section, I find the rings annyoing especially at the beginning of the calendar year. The left stack is veeeery small then ;)

    @David, and all the others who might like 'Die Toten Hosen' or want to listen: a download is available from Amazon UK (£ 7.49, http://amzn.to/lLRWS0) and iTunes UK (£ 8.99, http://bit.ly/jZ45hl). The album is called 'Unplugged im Wiener Burgtheater'.

    I'm pretty much looking forward to seeing some of again in September, and keeping in touch with all of you over this website and/or Twitter.

    One more thing: I'll do a post over the set up of my Filofaxes with photos of the details. Maybe Steve can put it on the list of the webfinds...

    Once again thank you and enjoy the next entries about 'readers under the spotlight'!


  15. Hi, Thomas! Great interview! And I learned something new: I didn't realize that the hamiltons were oiled leather! Thanks for info!

    You didn't mention your 'semper phi' tats per our twitter discussions! Weren't we all getting some ink to show our filo love/enabling? :)

  16. Hi, Thomas: I made my "Filofax Travel Pack" today!! I had to modify it a bit because I did not find any suitable felt and had to try something different (it worked out fine although I had to add a lining) and I wanted something for additional pens too..... anyway, it is basically still your pattern and the measurements worked fine for the Belmont, too. Thank you again for the great post!!

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  18. Hi Sari,

    I'm very proud and delighted that it worked for you! Have fun with it...

    Regards, Thomas


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