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Where do You Work?

Where do you work? I don't mean what do you do, I mean where do you do it? Are you inside or out? Sitting or standing? By a window or a wall? On a ladder or in a field?

 What can you see? Town or country? Office block or shopping centre? Sea or meadow?

I ask because my life in retail has had a varied position, at a cash desk, in an office, monitoring zone 1, in a window... four seasons in 1 day. And now, as an ecommerce entrepreneur most of my work is at a desk... and I love it.

But it's the desk in question that I truly love. It's a repro, stained dark brown and has a faux leather top. It measures 66cm x 46cm and has 1 drawer rammed with pens and notecards. The woodwork is chipped and the drawer handle is on it's way out. I believe it's worth about £5.

It belonged to my Gran. Granny Shepherd. Kathleen Rose Shepherd. She was a bit of an old fashioned Gran, by which I mean she was quite strict and me and my siblings were always a  bit frightened of her. But along with her 'Britishness' was a fantastic sense of humour and a special ability for storytelling. I have happy memories of family holidays in Scotland, where her giggle could be heard throughout the caravan and how she tirelessly played snap, the only card game my young sister could play.

I first became aware of her desk at her fourth from last home when I was about 8 years old. I used to wonder what she used it for as I only ever saw her sitting on her settee. Did she write novels at it once we'd left her in peace?

Grannys second from last home was an annex at my parents house. Every week day I would take my dinner into her sitting room and we'd watch The Weakest Link together, eating and shouting out answers. Granny always won.

In this house the desk had a use. It was a small room and the drawer was the only place to keep bills, magazines and invitations to the doctor. On the top were the few possessions she had chosen to keep: a bizarre carved wooden elephant lamp, photos of grandchildren and a framed picture of her own four children when they were young. 

After I moved out into my first property I would visit and again admire her beautiful desk. It's proportions, it's colour... it was just perfect. I would imagine it in my house and I realized that I had coveted it my entire life.

Grannys last house was a care home where she could receive the specialised care that she needed. Her Granny flat now felt empty, despite having all of her furniture in it. It was quiet, despite granny never having made noise. Her desk now stood motionless, containing precious documents, but with no-one to admire it.

Some months before granny left her final home (the bed in which she was confined had everything important within arms reach: Wurthers Originals, wet wipes, a teddy with a pretty headband, a balloon from her great grandchildren, a Bible) it became clear that at 95 Granny wouldn't be coming back to her annex. I received a warm text message from my dad. "Come and get your desk, it's waiting for you".

How did he know? Did everyone know? My affections that I thought I had kept hidden were apparently plain for all to see. Had Granny seen? 

As I write this sitting at mine and my Grans desk, I feel a contentment and attachment that is perhaps not normal for a human to have with a piece of furniture. But it isn't just furniture. It's the narrative of my life with my Gran. 

 

August 26, 2017 — Tamara Green

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