My writing desk is a long, solid structure made of two thuggy planks– stained, knocked about, but having in places of high wear (the mousing area, for instance) a buttery patina–supported on a timber frame. It runs under the window for nearly eight feet, but I tuck myself into one end of that as if embarrassed or overpowered by such an executive allocation of space. It was originally a photographer’s bench, I think; equally, you could rebuild an engine on it if anyone did that anymore. It’s not mine, it was here when I arrived in 1998, but it’s the most satisfying desk I’ve ever had. My ideal is to keep it bare of everything but the engine of the Mac. No pens, paper, books, nothing to remind me of what I do for a living except the screen, the writing space itself; above all, no clutter. But I do not fool myself that this aesthetic is actually available. Stuff is all over, all the things mentioned plus: wires, dust, iPods, earbuds, hard drives, CDs, souvenirs including Mexican Death TV, two elephants, brass lizard, wire lizard, big brass tray of beach pebbles pine cones shells etc, a Thai fish, glass pigs & an ash tray with horses on it nearly 40 years old. I have some good photographs of the bench, & I would put one up here but they also feature S’s daughters, who were doing some tidying up at the time, & I would rather get everyone’s permission first. This morning I’m sitting here on an Ikea swivel chair ten years old–called a Ronni or a Bobsu or a Cummi or something–with the cloth peeled away to reveal rotting foam. I am wearing a Rab double-pile jacket over a merino wool base-layer, & my red Buff in its beanie mode. It’s cold. An extra roof has appeared in the street, a snow-covered Luton van leaning up against a tree like a container abandoned in the corner of a field. No one can park sensibly in West London, home of double-parking for an hour in a street already lined on both sides with 4x4s, your driver-door open & engine running while you chat in the porch of a nice little workingman’s cottage, your honking voices penetrating all the way to Hammersmith & beyond causing shivers of rage & terror in the poor people who don’t know how to push for the things they want or even look after themselves properly.