Siân Bevan’s working life was a rootless whirl of disappearing pens and having to move whenever anyone wanted to eat their dinner. Until, that is, she discovered the joy of desk. Here, she explains why we all need a place that’s just for us and no one else.
I sat down to write this article a couple of days ago and I could not concentrate. I kept flitting around, going to make cups of tea and then sitting back down and just feeling unsettled. At one point I decided I wanted to stare at my legs to work out at what point you could see the hairs coming through.
I did this for about 10 minutes and then I made another cup of tea and then it was basically lunchtime, which I decided warranted baking.
It wasn’t until this morning that I realised the problem. My desk – a new addition to my life – was all wrong. I know, I know, I am incredibly privileged to have a desk, a roof over my head and not have nits, but this is a whine of the most minor kind. I deserve no sympathy when I say: I have reached a stage of my life where I like things to be how I like them.
We moved house a couple of years ago. Our limited budget and daydreams and optimism meant we bought a ‘fixer-upper’. Our flat was barren and sad with bare floorboards, no hot water and just a pair of orange curtains in the living room. I fell in love with it, as I tend to fall in love with broken things. We spent the next two years saving bits of money to do the Next Big Job, getting used to dust over everything and developing a pathological hatred of woodchip.
All this meant I didn’t have my own space. That was OK. Well, sort of. I’m an only child and I’m also incredibly clingy about my own things. I had to work hard at sharing with someone when I moved in with The Boy, on the grounds that if they’ve seen you naked, they probably assume it’s OK to use the pen (your most favourite) that is sitting on top of your pencil case. It’s fine, it’s fine.
When I turned to freelancing, I set up shop on the dining room table. I arranged it so I liked it, until we needed to eat on it and then it all had to move again and it’s fine, it’s fine. However, just recently, we’ve sorted out enough of the flat that my desk, MY OWN DESK that I found all by myself on the street, got to live in my own bit of the flat and have my own things on it. It wasn’t going to move. It doesn’t need to do anything except be my desk.
You know how people struggle to cope when someone famous for one thing turns their hand to something else, and we’re all like SHUT UP AND PICK A THING? Like when Rihanna is in a film, or when Tyra Banks released a single, or when it turned out that Natalie Portman was amazing at everything? That’s how I feel about my desk. I like it to host my belongings and stay put and have no ambitions to be nice to my guests. Hosting and looking pretty means I do basically want my desk to be Tyra Banks.
“A room, a desk, a shed, a place that is just for us and no one else is maybe what we all need. A place where your heart beats at the right rhythm and life makes room for your thoughts.”
When Virginia Woolf delivered her essay A Room of One’s Own at Cambridge in 1928, she was talking (among other things) about the importance of financial independence to women, in order to make their creative voices heard. The idea that without being able to be able to claim your own wee stake in the world, your words will never get the chance to settle into something solid which can be passed around.
If you’re worrying about money; if you belong to someone else; if your opinions are considered inconsequential then your story is likely to evaporate into a mist which can’t survive history. History’s a bitch.
A room, a desk, a shed, a place that is just for us and no one else is maybe what we all need. A place where your heart beats at the right rhythm and life makes room for your thoughts.
I love arranging my bit of the world, like a cat kneading a blanket until it’s cosy enough to settle down into. I love putting my things in the right place, looking around and crawling into the den of my work until I really do definitely, and I mean it this time, need a cup of tea.1948 Views
Siân is a writer, performer, creator of joyful things and sometimes she tries to explain things to young people. She’s a mainly vegan feminist who loves elephants, is scared of the dark and likes stories most of all.