A Question of Perspective

Last year we rearranged our house, and ended up with a spare computer desk. We tried to sell it on Gumtree, but the one person who emailed never turned up. It sat in our living room for several days, and then I wheeled it into the room where I write (a conservatory off the living room.)

I thought it might be useful – my desk is small and has several compartments for crap – oops – I mean for files, books, USB sticks, staples, paperclips, little photo holders that have no photos in them, and other important stuff. But precious little space for a computer. It was okay when I used a 13-inch lap top, but when that conked out my the desktop computer could only fit at an angle. Not the most ergonomic way to work, as my back and arms could tell you.

Unless I got rid of my writing desk – or the dining table that’s also in this room – there was nowhere to put the computer desk. My writing desk was a birthday gift some years ago, and no amount of telling myself I should get rid of it worked. Yes it’s worn, yes it never was a special piece of furniture in the first place, not in the way of the old roll-top antique desk my husband owns. But it’s special to me.

As for the dining table. We acquired it from my husband’s parents over 25 years ago when we moved into our first home. It was old then, the varnish worn through in places till the wood was bare. My husband said it just needed to be sanded down and re-varnished and then it would look as good as new. The worn varnish is still there and now it has splashes of green paint, a few scratches and some lumps of dried-on PVA glue.

Every time we’ve thought of getting rid of it, my husband said, “But it’s good quality. It’s far better than the dining table we use now. It just needs sanding down and re-varnishing to look good again.”

Actually, sometimes he just says, “But it’s an Ercol.”

When my mother-in-law passed it on to us, she said, “It’s an Ercol.”

That’s apparently code for, “It shall never leave this house.”

It might be worth money. Though with its green stains and dried-on glue, I doubt it. Still, we are going to sand it down and re-varnish it sometime. Maybe in another 25 years. Then it will be worth something.

Yet, maybe it’s worth something now. A Buddhist friend told me that Buddhist sages consider old chipped mugs to have value, because of the memories the chips hold. In truth, this battered old table holds memories for me too. It was round it that our daughters had their first solid meals, where they learned to feed themselves – where one of them stood up in her booster seat and fell backwards over the chair landing headfirst on the floor. I left her sister with our neighbours and rushed to Accident and Emergency. She fell asleep in my arms as we waited, which she never normally did. But the X-ray showed all was well and the doctor sent me home with a leaflet about head injuries, explaining when to panic. (No, I don’t think was phrased quite like that, but you know that’s what they meant.)

Still, it wasn’t the table’s fault, so there was no reason for it to go, especially not since our daughters have long since grown out of booster seats.

And anyway, it’s an Ercol.

So all summer last year, I muddled along with a computer desk in the middle of the floor. The clutter drove me mad. I couldn’t get into the book case, I tripped trying to reach the phone. It looked ominously as if my little writing desk would have to be sacrificed in the name of order.

Then we rearranged our living room and needed a new side table next to the sofa.

One morning, I sat looking around the conservatory, for the millionth time feeling sick of its messiness, and I suddenly realised that with a little rearranging, we might have a solution to all our problems. (Well, not to all our problems – I still haven’t figured out how to create world peace or which mobile phone to buy when my hand-me-down iPhone conks out.)

Next to my writing desk was a little table with the printer on top of it, and boxes of printer paper underneath it. (And sometimes a cat.) This table was really a living room table, moved in an earlier rearrange. It even matched our coffee table. And yes, a quick check with a tape measure revealed that the computer table could fit the space the printer table (which was really a living room side table) vacated.

I planned to tell you a great moral tale when I started writing. A tale about how sometimes the solution to a problem can be staring you in the face and you can’t even see it. How sometimes there isn’t even a problem at all. It’s just we need to look at it differently. But you got that.

So instead, I’ll leave you with brilliant video by David Ellzey. David is a mime artist as well as being a Sedona Method Instructor. I took a class with him a few years ago, where his compassionate teaching and hilarious miming made for a very enjoyable few days.


  1. Hey, sometimes it’s these little things that bring us joy and that’s really what this whole thing is about, right?! 🙂

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