WARNING: this post is quite long, having a goat-slayingly impressive 700 words. This equates to roughly 0.3 londonmarks.
My desk at work has two drawers. The top one is quite shallow, and the bottom one is deep.
The bottom drawer is not of much use to me, as it is full of boxes that used to contain wireless network access points, PCMCIA network cards and suchlike. At some point I will throw all these out of the window, but in the meantime, I have to fit my stash of flapjacks into the top drawer.
This top drawer can get a little untidy, so today I decided that it was time to take everything out, and put it back in, observing a more refined packing algorithm in order to optimise the usage of the space available.
Gingerly I placed my mobile phone, the facia for my car stereo, my flapjack stash etc into the drawer, all neat and perpendicular with 1cm padding between them all. And I was reminded, for the first time in years, of the magical mystical astronomical phenomenon that was my bedside cabinet at my parents’ house.
My old bedroom was converted to a study some time ago, but a lot of the furniture remains. The bedside cabinet and wardrobe are still there, albeit with significantly different contents. The desk unit, which formed the third part of the matching set, had been damaged somewhat*, so became the source of a wonderful bonding moment between my dad and I. We had realised that carrying it downstairs was going to be a lot of effort, and once we got it outside we were just going to demolish it anyway. So we demolished it there and then, on the upstairs landing, with hammers, screwdrivers and roundhouse kicks, showering the house with flakes of chipboard.
Where was I? Ah, yes, the bedside cabinet.
I used to keep all sorts of interesting things in that bedside cabinet. It held a deck of Top Trumps and a deck of adult playing cards. It held handkerchiefs and a piece of the Berlin Wall. It held a walkie talkie (my sister had the other one in her bedroom) and a filofax with pictures of rally cars pritt-stuck on. It held spare electric plugs and a calculator. It held all this and much, much more. It was the accumulation of items acquired between the ages of 5 and 18, none of them larger than a kitten.
The continual opening and closing of those drawers meant that the items would all slide and slip around, bouncing off of eachother and generally causing a helluva mess. Especially before I was a teenager, when I still had boundless energy, and if a drawer wasn’t opened quickly and noisily, then justice hadn’t really been done to the whole global drawer-opening concern.
Every once in a while, I would slide those drawers all the way out, and invert them over my bedroom carpet. This was especially dangerous in the days before I started bringing girls home, as the junk tidemark around the edges of my small bedroom was much higher than in later years. Subsequently some small items would be liable to fall into the sea, and contribute to the gradual rising of the junk levels.
Then I would gently place all the items back into the drawers, maintaining orthogonality, and neat piles with small things on top of larger things, and so forth until Mr Hanoi himself would nod approvingly.
Then I’d put the drawers back in and slam them, in the only way that I knew how. Everything would slide to the back and form an amorphous mass.
* this desk was very fragile, being supported by two hinges at the back and a couple of slender metal arms. I once attempted to detonate a whoopee cushion by placing it on the desk and sitting on it. Unsurprisingly, the whoopee cushion remained unexploded, and the desk bore the brunt of the force. The screws holding the slender metal arms remained securely in the wood, but the bit of the wood that they were connected to parted company with all the rest of the wood.