A Desk of One’s Own

When Virginia Woolf wrote about women becoming authors, she prescribed an income of 50 guineas a year and a room of one’s own. I’m not sure what the modern-day equivalent is of 50 guineas, but I can tell you that a room of one’s own is a luxury I have rarely enjoyed.

The essential piece of equipment in a room of one’s own is of course a desk of one’s own; and this is something I have managed to acquire even if only in a corner of the bedroom. My first desk was a bureau in the hallway (I’ve blogged about this here) and my second, an ancient school desk with a sloping lid which I somehow acquired – maybe from a jumble sale? – and painted white. The lid sloped so steeply that I had to prop it up with fat books to make it level. On the top it had a niche for pens and a hole for an inkwell (at my first year at grammar school we had to use ink pens and I managed to get far more ink on myself than I ever did on the page; thankfully after this we were allowed biros.*) Then after I left home there were built-in desks in student rooms and finally, after years of desklessness, a magnificent one of my Dad’s which had sat in his study for years and was so old and creaky that it had to be held together with string. I seem to remember he bought it for 20 shillings from Timothy White’s. Then when that broke I was already in Madrid and had a tiny desk in the corner of my room and after that, once I was married with children, a table in the corner of the bedroom and then (joy!) for three years a proper desk in an actual study during which time I wrote a load of short stories. Around this period I also had a big dining table up at the chalet which, although a little creaky, was quite serviceable and looked out from a picture window onto the campsite and the trees beyond. But when we moved here I had to make do with a table in the library and a desk in a Friend’s house before I found a rickety old table on wheels and made some space for it in the bedroom.

I have written on trains, planes and buses. I have written in waiting-rooms and cafes, on beaches and in chalets in the woods. But the thing I long for most is a desk of one’s own – and a room of one’s own to put it in.

Kirk out

*I guess this could spawn another post; A Pen of One’s Own…

Cry God for Harry, England and… erm…

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know that I’ve been spending a few days in the land of the free and the home of the Braveheart – no, not the US but Scotland. Dumfries is not so much bonnie scots pine as – ahem! – lowlandii, but it is nevertheless beautiful and parts of the journey are terrific. I didn’t see much of the hills from the A66 on the way there as I was too busy battling drizzle and endless truck-spray to wonder what lay beyond the clouds, but on the way back it was such a perfectly clear day that I drove slowly (or as slowly as one can without annoying everyone) and marvelled at the beauty of the Cumbrian hills with snow on the distant tops. I stopped frequently, intending to make the journey last most of the day, and as a result enjoyed it much more than if I’d hurried.

So what did I do while I was there? Well, I relaxed; I walked, I looked around, I went to pubs and cafes and shops and I spoke to people, though often not before they’d spoken to me first. Everyone is very friendly there; everyone smiles and says hello, everyone engages in conversation, so I felt very much at home. I stayed in a Travelodge which, although not recommended for its aesthetics, was nevertheless cheap, comfortable and clean and with a range of terrestrial TV channels which made me all the more thankful for Netflix and the iplayer.

So now I’m back, baby – and one of the news stories which broke during my absence was the (sort of) abdication of Harry and Megan. I was a bit gobsmacked by this as it seemed to come out of the blue; and I’m still not sure why they’ve done it, but the overwhelming narrative seems to be that he will not allow the press to do to his wife what they did to his mother. I read his speech today and found it very dignified and moving. There’s a high price to pay for being a royal and it’s a club they don’t ask to join, so on the whole I think what they’re doing is fair enough – though it distresses me that it’s even necessary.

So that’s us up to date. How have you been?

Kirk out