Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Hundred Year Old Desk

My Writing Space
by Gina Rossi

This is my absolute favourite place to write: at home, in an upstairs room of an old farmhouse in The Channel Islands. From here, I can hear the birds in the garden—particularly a vociferous, super-territorial, bossy robin—but not see them, so that means less distraction for me. This is important, what with me actively seeking each tiny nuance of distraction as a vital part of the procrastination process.

I bought this oak roll-top desk when we lived in South Africa way back in the eighties, for the equivalent sum of what is now sixty-five dollars. Horribly expensive back then, but I really wanted it. It’s a great organizer with all those pigeonholes, plus the little drawers. The big drawers on the lower section are deep and long.  Beneath the central drawer, there’s a small brass plate:


Ropemaker St., London, E.C.

This was one of the many office furniture manufacturing companies active in East London between the mid-1800s and mid-1900s, all of which have now sadly disappeared.  This desk has travelled some, with at least two long sea voyages to its name, if that plate is to be believed. How old is it? The dealer I bought it from told me it was “about a hundred years old, from around 1880.” Hmm, sceptic that I am, I cut that in half. I reckon my desk is turning a hundred around about now.

The pile of paper on the left hand side is my to-do pile and on the right is a stack of rough paper. If things get messy, I simply roll down the ‘roll top’, from which the desk takes its name. Above the desk hangs a watercolour of Cape Town Harbour in the 1800s (painted in 1990), by my late father, an amateur watercolourist. The antique box with mother-of-pearl detail contains precious cassettes (yes, those), recordings of the chatter of my four children when they were little. My well-thumbed reference books fill the bookshelves, along with travel, poetry, gardening, history, all sorts of stuff.

The daffodils bring an extra-welcome burst of sunlight into the room.  They’ve flowered early all over the islands, following an exceptionally mild winter.

The desk isn’t tidy. It never is, but it confines me to a defined space. If, needing a change of scene, I work someplace else, like the dining room table, usually I look up after an hour or two and think: “Who ransacked the room?” Somehow, I manage to spread everywhere.

So, I keep going back to my wise old desk, the daffodils, the birdsong, my father’s painting, my own space.

Quite simply, it’s the best place to write.


Thanks so much for stopping by. Please visit me here if you have a spare moment:


Yolande Pienaar said...

The desk is simply gorgeous. You are going to be the envy of quite a few people today. Thanks for sharing that we're not alone in creating chaos wherever we work.

Kathy Bosman said...

That is so romantic, Gina. Thank you for sharing.

Gina Rossi said...

Thanks for stopping by Yolande & Kathleen. Happy writing to you x