The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.
World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.
And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.
MacNeice is one of my favourite poets and made it into my 10 favourite books list earlier this year. His poems are so rhythmic and lyrical that he is among the very few poets that I can read without getting irritated by the sparse use of punctuation. He’s lovely to read aloud for those same reasons. I strongly recommend you read some of his work.
After a fine run of warm, sunny autumn days, it seems we have turned a corner and yesterday was dark and dank without respite. A day for hunkering down with steaming mugs of tea, for switching on the lamp to provide a pool of light on the desk, for typing and typing (trying to improve my speed) and for relishing the quiet.
Relishing the quiet and the pool of light most of all. Since I abandoned my job this summer, I am missing a regular income intensely, but not missing the bustle and brightness and, lets face it, austerity of modern offices. It seems that the more firmly we wed ourselves to technology, the less appealing, perhaps less human, our offices become. We can’t live without the technology, but I know I am not alone in thinking we need to forge a better connection between the computers and phones and our heritage products, the pens and papers, the files and filing cabinets, the people. One case in point is the ability to track exactly who is involved in a project, and what they are doing, simply by looking at a list on the front of a folder – we’ve lost that and I miss it.
On the other hand, I do not miss the early years in my last job when finding information in a folder would often start with unlocking the next-door warehouse, which was only used for storage and therefore freezing on all but the hottest summer day, climbing the stairs, then climbing the stepladder, then braving the clouds of dust to locate the file in its cardboard box. No, that I do not miss.
All of this is simply to preface a brief update on my home desk. After I reorganised my books at the beginning of last week, I was struck with the need to move my desk yet again. There are really only two places in my flat where the desk can possibly go, yet it yo-yos between these two positions with alarming frequency. I think, possibly, it will end up being a summer position/winter position thing. Now it is in the ‘winter position’ – a dark corner, but rather cosy. In summer it makes sense to have it over by the window to take advantage of breezes and natural light. (Isn’t it funny how quickly the lovely summer breeze becomes the annoying winter draught?) Both positions have equal value and neither position is quite perfect, and so I despair of ever finding any resolution as to the ‘winner’.
The staple items on top of my desk, regardless of the position, are:-
Lamp – Due to the way I had the desk laid out in the summer I didn’t have the lamp and I missed it.
Laptop – My trusty MacBook is little and lightweight and I love it. I don’t for a moment regret moving to this from my desktop iMac. There is a lot to love about a desktop computer, but in a small flat it can be overwhelming.
iPad Pro – Music centre, and handy extra screen when I want to reference something without taking too much focus off what I’m doing on the MacBook. I have the Apple Pencil and use it occasionally, but nowhere near as much as I expected I would when I bought the iPad Pro.
Diary, Notebook, Pen – In the summer these were pretty much permanently perched on the back of my settee and only taken to my desk as and when needed. Now the desk is back near the settee they have gravitated towards living on the desk.
Bamboo magazine tidy x 2 – One holds various notebooks and stickers together with my journal; the other houses printed copies of my CV, some other random paperwork, and an A5 Filofax which I have set up to prepare for next February’s International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo).
Mouth and Foot Painting Artists‘ Calendar 2018 – This is a charity which my mum supported and I have carried on. A couple of times a year, they send out a bundle of cards featuring artworks by people who are unable to use their hands, yet are supported and encouraged to find other ways to express their creativity. As someone who can’t ‘draw’, ‘paint’, or otherwise express creativity in a visual format, I am in awe of them. The pack with Christmas cards always includes this A5 format calendar and for several years it has been the calendar I have displayed near my desk.
Blakes 7 etched coaster – Because it’s my desk and of course there is going to be something on the Blakes 7 theme.
Having done what passed for some work at my desk, the afternoon drew to a close, what little light there had been in the day departed, and my knitting began singing its siren song to me. As I age, I am becoming reconciled to the bright summer nights, but in my heart I have always loved best the long, dark evenings of autumn and winter.
Long, dark evenings, or the summery stretches of balmy half-light in the garden – what’s your preference?