15st 4lb, zero units. Our first wedding anniversary – the Paper Anniversary, by all accounts, which was curiously appropriate since I must have got through at least a roll of the stuff in the course of the day. Though, to be fair, today was not as bad as yesterday, all of which I spent prostrate on the sofa, racked with stomach pains between my frequent dashes to the lavatory. Too much information? Sorry. There isn’t much else to say of the last few days. I drove to Wakefield on Friday morning to meet a client who is ordinarily based in the North East. Curiously, when I got there, he did not seem to know why the hell we were meeting in Wakefield either. Still, having got there I reckoned that I was approximately halfway to our Northumberland home and might as well carry on to it, with a view to writing the annual report that my client now required to a pretty tight deadline. Reasoning to myself that there were fewer distractions in Northumberland, a much reduced chance of having my sleep disturbed, and a fuller library of relevant documents to hand. Plus, crucially, a flat desk.
Now, you might think that flatness is pretty much a sine qua non in a desk, but the Victorians thought otherwise. They loved a writing slope. And years ago I fell in love with this beautiful, multi-drawered, sloping pine desk that had once held pride of place in a Northumberland stationmaster’s office. It was quite cheap, too, though it did not take me long to work out that this was because it was no f***ing use. My desktop computer screen could only be balanced where it was too far away for comfortable viewing, and always looked as though it was teetering on the brink of crashing to destruction, while any papers placed by my keyboard invariably slid to the floor. Unless one placed a heavy paperweight on top of them, in which case that slid to the floor as well. Even so, its looks meant that I could not bear to part with it – ah, how often I have made that mistake in other contexts! So I shunted it into a conservatory and bought a big, flat, ugly pine desk for my study instead.
Spool forward a couple of decades and I had these two big desks in my house in Northumberland and none in Cheshire, so I foolishly included the sloping one in the pantechnicon load of stuff I had moved to the new marital home last October. Years of exposure to the sunshine in my conservatory had not done the antique railway desk any favours, and I felt that it deserved a better home. This also did not seem entirely deranged as, since I had last tried to use it, I had moved on from desktop computers and now always use a laptop. Which, as I correctly calculated, sits quite comfortably on the sloping surface. I can sit there and tap away happily for hours, churning out stuff like this. But it is still bloody hopeless if trying to produce something like an annual report, where one wants notes, press releases and other reference documents spread all around. Not sliding instantaneously onto the floor in a heap. Something which happens all the more readily now that I have made the biggest mistake of all and actually polished the bloody thing. Placing a book on it now is like watching a little old lady inadvertently setting foot on a children’s slide. Except that the book does not scream “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh yer bugger!” as little old ladies nearly always do, at any rate in the North East.
I realized that I had chosen the wrong desk to relocate even before this, when the removal men said that there was no chance of getting it upstairs. The one I left in Northumberland comes apart, and would have been a breeze to shift. As it happened, they surprised themselves and somehow got it into my study but, in a curious reminder of the plot of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, it was not technically possible for them to have done so. We may therefore be bloody sure that it will not be possible for it to come out again. When we are ready to move out I’ll just have to remember to place some particularly precious items on it in the days beforehand and watch them smash themselves to pieces on the floor. That will make it so much easier to take a chainsaw to the thing.
Anyway, I went for the flat desk and solitude on my wedding anniversary. Which was probably a bit of a bastard trick, on the whole. But the Fates got their own back by sending me this hideous stomach bug so that I could spend the weekend unproductively and in pain, adding to nothing but the profits of the manufacturers of Andrex and the bloke who empties the septic tank.
Memo to self: must do better next year.
Oh, and I should add that Mrs H was most understanding about the whole thing, merely commenting that I had spent the first day of our honeymoon writing a slide presentation for the self-same client, so it was clearly par for the course.
Have I mentioned before that I am married to a saint?
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