Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's a little tight in here

Snail - Click to view patternMyself and the local Rector are not quite people you might say are in need of a good feed. So it is a little uncomfortable at the moment showing him the latest updates to the parish website with the computer table shoved into a tight corner. My knees are jammed at a kind of 45 degree angle to the desk so my back isn't crunked against the dining room table behind me. He has to sit on a chair a little off to one side craning his neck and peering over the top of the printer. But we manage. Just.

The reason for the hardship is, of course, the imminent arrival of workmen to install our new heating system. We have ear-marked certain walls for radiators and so have cleared some space to let the workmen work. So the junk we usually spread out a bit is now piled in corners or on any surface on which it might be put until the men are gone.

My first work desk was in the box room of my parents' house and consisted, quite adequately, of a piece of offcut plywood assembled to two other pieces of plywood in a kind of orange-crate imitation. My father so wanted to make something -- anything, in fact -- from that offcut of plywood. But no. I had seen it first in the pile of random things he had brought home from somewhere. He asked me and asked me for it until I finally painted it a kind of off white colour. Then he didn't ask me any more.

The box room is the room in a two-storey house where a space has been cut out of the floor to allow the stairs to come up. The ceiling of the floor below slants up into the room (usually the smallest room in the house, perhaps bar the one with the facilities) and is boxed off with plasterboard. The result is sometimes a room with about one quarter of wasted space. This was the one I had. A bed (made by me out of more offcut timbers, this time, I think, from an old drop-leaf table), was jammed in crossways behind me. I actually had a decent amount of leg room, once I clambered over stuff and got sitting at the desk.

The first writing tool I bought was a manual typewriter. It had a carrying case and handle, which meant that although it weighed about 8 pounds it was actually portable. I was working as a nightwatchman and the typewriter would clack away for an hour or two in the dead of night in the Portacabin on the site where I guarded the construction machinery and kept the pumps going and tried not to look too scared and lonely. When the job finished, the typewriter clacked and cursed away back home, much to the discomfiture of my parents who had to listen to it whacking away through the wooden desk and the wooden floor beneath.

I changed to an electric model when one or two pieces sold and made a bit of money. Where the manual clacked, this one kind of thumped. It also introduced me to the idea of consumables. Where the manual had a good old-fashioned ribbon, that worked until you could see through it, this yoke tended to run out of print at inopportune times necessitating a walk to Tallaght Village for a replacement.

I had books around me and LPs and a stereo system with big padded 80s headphones. A big print calendar marked the days when a manuscript would go away in the post and when one came back. I even acquired a filing cabinet and filled the one remaining corner. My father complains the cabinet's still there. He's blind to his own junk, of course. But "that cabinet" is still there. So is the old off-white home made desk.

I've been thinking that I need some work space again and have been looking at the empty place Herself's old dressing table took up in our bedroom. I think I'll go the flat-packed self-assembly route this time, though. I don't hink she'd put up with a makey-up one somehow.

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