This is me on a video conference.
There have been a lot of these conferences the last few years, and this is the view of the place where I work that conference colleagues and friends get to see. My shelves of books and papers and in the window over my left shoulder, Tiffany Parrot flanked by two artists’ mannequins. They stand either side of her, presenting her to the room. You can just see the arm of the second one behind the net curtain.
But what does the rest of the room look like? Allow me to share the other view!
This is a collage of pictures of my desk, presented David Hockney style! Actually, no, strike that. It’s really not a lot like David Hockney’s photo-collages. But it is a photo-collage, and I may be kidding myself, but I think it makes the mess I work in look a bit more dramatically artistic.
This, as they say, is where the magic happens.
Starting in the bottom left, we have the computer. It’s a gaming computer and I call it Little Moloch, partly because of the glowing stylized bull’s head on the front, partly because it’s a little smaller than its predecessor Behemoth, and I wanted to continue with the names of Biblical monsters. But mostly because of Terry Pratchett’s character Death of the Disc World. Death has a kitchen range called The Little Moloch and thinking of that still makes me smile.
Travelling from Little Moloch up in a clockwise direction, we have my pencil case, mouse and headphones. I use the pencil case to keep the headphone cable from tangling with the mouse cable. (I’m terribly conservative and have yet to give up on cables for most of my peripherals. On the other hand, they work more reliably than the Bluetooth peripherals I own, so I’ll stick with them till the tech improves.)
Oh yes, and I am right handed, but I taught myself to use the mouse with my left hand to save myself from repetitive strain injury.
I have two screens because … having four would just be showing off!
And, yes, I staged this for the photo so one screen is showing my website, TheSupercargo.com, in a Firefox browser, while the other shows PensAroundTheWorld.com in Chrome. Above the left-hand screen you can see my video camera. With which I took the video conference photo at the top of this.
Next to the headphones and below the left-hand screen is my Bullet Journal. I’ve been keeping a Bullet Journal for nearly three years now and I find myself appreciating it and refining it more and more.
The keyboard is a regular QWERTY keyboard, but with a Scandinavian layout. Using this layout has become second nature to me. I get lost on Anglo/American layouts nowadays. Where’s the question mark? And what’ve they done with the bloody exclamation mark! As for the Francophone layouts I came across when I lived in Brussels a few years ago, quelle horreur! Ils étaient frustrants au-delà de toute mesure!
Below the right-hand screen is my little oddities tray. Among other things, there’s the brass letter opener and pair of compasses that used to belong to my father-in-law. I so rarely need either – but when I do, there they are! Behind the little white pot of (picks it up and peers at it short-sightedly) Shea lip balm – a gift. Behind that there’s a cropped photo my wife took of me sitting on a bench in Sofia with two Bulgarian literati. It’s cropped in order to conceal how fat I look.
Next to that is a selfie-stick. It doubles as a tripod for the mobile phone. I’ve been trying to film myself recently. Not easy.
Above and behind the right-hand screen is my pinboard, covered with a reproduction of a 16th century map of Scandinavia and the North Sea, and away to the left of that are two postcards of Tudor era women. The lower one is Queen Elizabeth I, while the upper one is the disputed portrait of Helena Marchioness Northampton that hangs in the Tate Britain gallery in London. She is the principal p.o.v. character in my 10-years-in-the-writing-and-still-unfinished historical novel, The Long Way to London (working title).
Up above the pinboard, attached to the edge of the upper shelf, are a few family photos. The enlarged one is a snap of a painting on a wall in my sister’s home. It’s a portrait of our grandmother in her early 20s. Grandma used to work as an artist’s model. On this occasion the artist couldn’t afford to pay her, which she only found out after the sitting. He gave her the painting in lieu.
That’s one story, anyway. Another is that she usually sat naked, but on this occasion her period had come early, so the artist painted her “dressed as a gypsy”, just for practice, and gave her the picture afterwards.
The picture is signed, but we’ve never been able to identify the artist. (And, yes, my brother-in-law once took it along to the Antiques Roadshow, but even their experts were unable to help.)
The shelf below the map has a few knick-knacks. There’s my father-in-law’s hip flask, which I have been known to fill and take out with me at times. Next to that is a piece of desert rose sandstone my father brought back from North Africa. I sometime hold it in my hands and turn it over when I’m thinking about something. Next to that is a carved wooden goose from East Africa, and a card with a self-portrait of one of my literary heroes, Moomin-mamma Tove Jansson. She’s tucked behind a Swedish tomte (house gnome).
Below the shelf – and now we’re in the bottom right quadrant – almost concealed is my laser printer. In front of that is my pad with longhand notes, my pen, my not entirely reliable Bluetooth microphone in its charging case, and in front of that my mobile phone.
Yep, that’s my workspace!
And it’s all tucked away behind that folding screen because my wife thinks its a complete eyesore and needs to be concealed from the rest of the living-room.
Where do you work? And do you surround yourself with mementos? Or do you prefer a minimalist working environment?