Personal Space

There has been a military coup. Despite threats having been issued, and without even the suggestion of talks at a high level, substantial changes have been taken place under the crashing boots of an invading army.

Well, it was the Salvation Army – one in trainers, one in Hush Puppies – but the point still stands.

The forge at which I work, the cradle of my creativity, the well of all my thoughts, the crucible of my imagination, has been replaced willy, and indeed nilly, by what I can only describe as an Utterly Different Table.

It may be true that the previous article – what I like to call the One True Table – had a wobble on it like Eamonn Holmes on a cattle grid, a distinct leaning to the left that even Karl Marx would have considered a bit iffy and a surface so uneven and pitted that, were it a road, it would pop the radials on a Vauxhall Nova in a trice. But it was the table I was used to. And when the Christian charity chaps brought the new one round, there was consternation

As a freelancer, I’m used to working anywhere when I visit other companies.

Some places perch you on a kitchen stool with a clockwork Fisher Price laptop from which the ‘s’ key is mi**ing in a room which is part corridor, part dumping ground for torn job bags and part final destination point for an incessant Arctic wind.

Others lay you back gently in an Eames chair with a swan’s wing pillow and allow you to dictate deathless prose to a pen-poised posse of not-unpleasant-on-the-eye interns.

Most give you a chair, a desk and a working computer and, apart from the moment when you discover that the bloke to whom you gave a cheery ‘wotcher cock, how’s it dangling’ in the gents is actually the Chairman of the Board, all is generally serene.

But working from home is different, and gives rein to writers’ pedantry – a place for everything and everything in its place. Roald Dahl did all his work wrapped in a blanket sitting in a garden shed. Proust could only put pen to paper in a cork-lined room. Enid Blyton insisted on writing in violet ink on sheets of vellum balanced on the back of a crouching housemaid while her favourite Hitler speeches were played at enormous volume on a wind-up gramophone*.

The One True Table was rectangular. The laptop was in one corner. I could shuffle to the next corner to read the Sun take notes and sort out research. That left one corner for the pile of things pending, and one corner for the pile of things which grows ever higher but will never, ever be looked at in my lifetime. Perfection.

The interloper, the pretender, the cuckoo in the nest is round. Round. What madness is that? Only King Arthur liked a round table, and he never had a website to complete by Thursday, latest.

And – this has been scientifically proven, by the way, under laboratory conditions – the new one is one whole tabloid paper smaller than the old one.

I ask you, in the name of all that’s good and decent, in conditions of depravation such as this, how can it be right that a man hasn’t even the room to rest his HobNob?

*Pack of lies. I should be ashamed of myself.

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