Tuesday, July 17, 2012
FROM THE DESK OF GRANDMA
There was a time when some of the Sunday newspaper supplements, and a couple of magazines, used to fill up space, and the dreaded back page in particular, with insightful little articles on such riveting subjects as:
‘The Contents of my Fridge’
‘What’s on my mantelpiece’
‘The Contents of my Handbag’
And so on.
It was, I suppose, a development of the idea that people are fascinated by lists – which is a wholly different subject that has earned certain writers, such as one Schott, a measure of fame and fortune.
I always felt that the minor celebrities called upon to describe the contents of their fridge were always desperately trying to make a good impression, so were unlikely to mention the shapeless ball of suppurating mould that had once been half a kilo of mince, left at the back of a shelf for the tomorrow that never came. They would proudly describe the healthy options that resided therein, which no-one ever believed in and, hoping to earn a laugh, would state with coy charm that they also kept their knickers (wrapped one hopes) or their Botox injections in there in the height of summer.
Picture by the late great Beryl Cook
Selected mantelpieces always held invitations to fashionable weddings and ID tags for race-meetings and no-one ever mentioned the vase of Grandpa’s ashes that might have been up there in place of honour.
As for handbags, the only ones that interested me were those of the Queen and Mrs Thatcher, and since their contents were often speculated upon but never revealed, I soon lost interest.
I still think the series could have continued more interestingly with ‘What is on my Desk Today’ to which I would have been delighted to contribute.
My desk has been a source of wonder to my family and work colleagues for many years. What now amuses me is that there is a bit of one’s computer labeled ‘Desktop’ which seems to serve the same old function, only ‘virtual’. as the real thing always did – a repository for the detritus of my daily life and future projects.
There are even annoying little cyber=managers that pop up every now and then to inform me that my Desktop contains too many unused icons and would I please get rid of them. Delighted, you officious little Windows monitor I would say - make me an offer – icons are going for a good price these days.
Today, our desks have to accommodate the computer and all its accessories, or a laptop which may incorporate some of these accessories into its body but not all.
This is supposed to result in the ‘paperless office’.
Hmm. Not so far in my experience, in fact computers seem to spew out enormous amounts of large pieces of paper covered with faint and thus illegible words and figures. This means that you have to use what you can’t read as scrap paper for jotting down a 'hard' version of what you can’t read.
One person, however, who seems to have it all under control is the President of the USA, but please note that he does not appear to have a computer on that desk.
My boss used to visit my office in Corfu on his whirlwind visits to see how we were getting on, and would sigh and groan when he saw my desk once more. I thought I had tidied it in honour of his arrival, but it was never tidy enough for him
‘It looks as if there has been an earthquake in here!’ he would bluster. ‘How can you find anything?’ And yet the curious thing was that I always could find what I wanted, within seconds. One of those cod-scientific articles appeared in the Daily Mail at that time saying that scientists agreed that an untidy desk was in fact an efficient desk. I don’t think my boss agreed.
Thing is, desks, like Smarties and seats on aircraft, have got smaller. Look at the fine antique desk above – plenty of room there for papers and files, a plant or two, a coffee machine and a computer and even the office cat and – yes! – even room to perch a buttock on a corner while flirting on the phone with someone thus impersonating a Hollywood secretary and brightening up the day.
Ah yes, the office cat – there is always at least one when I am around.
Today’s desks are sadly reduced in size and not very attractive.
No room there for the average daily contents of my desk, which were the initial premise for this blog, and which nowadays include at least two helicopters, a couple of fast cars and a submarine, a shark, a dinosaur and an alligator.
Of course, as a Grandma, there is bound to be a piece of Bandaid somewhere on that desk, for emergency use only, as well as a recipe for some nice sweet cake. There will be eleven pens, used up by the kids and returned empty to the little box they stand in. There will be hastily scribbled phone numbers without names to identify them, and pieces of string. There will be lists, the purpose of which has now expired. There will be a Memory Stick, the contents of which I can't for the life of me remember.
Welcome to Grandma’s Desk!