I seem to be spending more and more of my time in front of my computer these days. Increasingly for work but also, of course, for blogging. Catching up on other blogs yesterday evening, I was struck by the thought of the people I have got to know ever so slightly via their blogs over the last year, and I wondered what they were looking at whilst they were composing their posts.
I don’t actually have a view from my desk, it’s positioned in such a way that I’m staring into a corner. It does little to inspire but I suppose the upside is I don’t get distracted. Last year we finally got round to buying a painting to go above the desk. A painting of a local scene in really muted colours which captures the dark brooding hills and farmland around my village in Wales. The artist, David Day, used to be an architect and I love the buildings and the way he has drawn them with a flattened perspective. This style is more prominent in some of his other works. I just fell in love with this painting though. The sheep, the farmer, the white farm buildings and the looming form of the Skirrid, the hill in the background will always make me think of this part of the country, no matter where we live.
I often find myself drifting off and staring at it. In a very small way it connects me to the outside whilst I’m in front of the computer. We’ve had the painting nearly a year now and even though I see it pretty much every day I haven’t got sick of it.
Joining the computer on my desk is a peace lily. With yellowing leaves and crusty leaf tips it has that slightly unloved look most house plants seem to have, certainly in my house anyway. I haven’t managed to actually get this plant to flower since I bought it which is disappointing but not unusual apparently. So often the conditions in our homes aren’t suitable for the plants we grow indoors. Still I don’t mind too much, it adds a splash of greenery and it was voted by NASA as one of the best plants to grow to clean the air. A plant particularly useful for sticking next to electrical equipment as it can absorb the small levels of radiation given off by computers and also chemicals such as formaldehyde, given off by paint and soft furnishings.
There’s a selection of books including a bashed and battered dictionary that has seen me through A’ Levels and university, this has sat on many a desk and bookcase over the years. It isn’t the most comprehensive of word collections but suffices; I probably use the thesaurus more. An out of date Good Gardens Guide that my dad gave me, which is a useful reference guide and Bill Bryson’s Troublesome Words sit on the desk too. I first read the latter a few years ago and loved it. I’ve always been a huge fan of Bryson, an American writer, who has become an honorary Brit. Known mostly for his travel writing, Troublesome Words is one of his very early books written when he was working as a sub-editor for The Times newspaper. Inspired by having to use the English language and its glorious disorderliness every day he wrote this book to answer some of those questions that even the most educated get wrong. Peppered with some quite cringing examples of grammar and spelling misdemeanours by journalists, his book highlights the problems most of us encounter with our own language. Whether to use flaunt or flout, is there anything wrong with splitting an infinitive and whether you can start a sentence with ‘and’? After taking it out from the library again this year I decided I would buy myself a copy. I knew of a little second-hand bookshop in a town we were visiting whilst on holiday and thought I’d pop in. I couldn’t quite believe it when I saw it sitting on a shelf in the shop and for the bargain price of £3. For anyone who likes writing and language I can highly recommend it.
And finally, sat on the far corner of the desk is a collection of natural stuff, shells, pine cones and pretty stones picked up on walks. They remind me of particular places, my favourite beach in Cornwall, a woodland walk in Norfolk. Again these connect me to the outdoors even though I’m writing away on my keyboard. At the moment they have been arranged by Wellyman to sit on top of the router. He is trying to achieve the optimum range for the WiFi and has moved it about in an attempt to discover where this is. At the moment it seems it’s at the end of the desk with shells perched on top. I don’t think these are adding anything to the signal though.
I dream one day of having a view from my desk, maybe of my garden or of the sea. I’m sure I get more work done without one though. I’d love to know a little bit about what you see whilst you’re writing your blog.