The desk conundrum

Since the beginning of July, I hadn’t done any filing or tidying in the office. The desk, dresser and window sill have been heaped with a messy tangle of paperwork, photos, cheque books, pens, scraps of paper, notebooks, CDs and DVDs, instruction manuals, dust, dead flies, coins, jewellery, camera lenses, folders, files, receipts, bank statements, medical reports, bills, batteries and chargers.

I’ve been totally ashamed and disgusted every morning, and every evening I have resolved to deal with it first thing next day, and the months have rolled by with the only change being increasing mess.

There’s no  excuse. True we did have visitors staying for almost three months, and I was unwell for several months, but neither the visitors nor the ailment left me unable to sort out a pile of papers. I can’t find an explanation for it.

Among the piles was correspondence with the tax office, who thought we hadn’t paid something which we had. Failure to make the requested payment in time would result in a visit from the bailiff. The correspondence had been there for several days, picked up and put down every day, but today was the deadline to respond. The choice was to ignore it, let the bailiff turn up and triumphantly wave the receipt for the payment under his nose, or write to the tax office and send them all the necessary evidence and receipts. That seemed the more sensible path, so fortified with a strong coffee and a bowl of porridge I sat down and wrote to them, copied all the correspondence, and filed it away.

That seemed to unlock the dam, and in less than an hour the surfaces were clear and cleaned, everything dealt with and filed. As quick and easy as that.

I’m feeling better and far less tired today than I have done for months. Whether that’s the effect of sorting out the mess, or the cause of it, who knows? But it’s certainly a relief on both counts.

Is a cluttered desk a sign of a cluttered mind, or a creative one? Speaking for myself, I find that it does nothing to feed creativity, in fact just the opposite. I don’t want to sit at it. The clutter overwhelms me. On the other hand, a totally empty desk is daunting. How do other feel about this? Does anybody else let mess get on top of them?

As Albert Einstein (renowned for the untidiness of his desk) said: “If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”


Maybe a potted plant, a pen, notebook and cup of coffee will strike the right balance.



Sunset and a Fussy Librarian

The sunset was incredibly vivid last night, with giant purple clouds boiling up all around. It looked both beautiful and slightly menacing.


And by the way, nothing at all to do with sunsets, my latest book “I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry” is being featured on Monday 28th October at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized quality ebook recommendations. You can choose from 30 genres and indicate your preferences about content. If you like sex and violence, you can have it. If you don’t, you won’t be offered it. The Fussy Librarian gets to work and sends you daily suggestions suited to your personal reading taste. It’s pretty cool — check it out!

“I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry” is a memoir of childhood in Kenya, the breakdown of our family which would have repercussions for decades, and a small grey pony called Cinderella.

I can’t say I’m sorry.

In fact, I’m very pleased that Awesome Indies has awarded their badge of approval to “I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry”


As part of the Blackbird Digital Books autumn promotion, this week The Valley of Heaven and Hell and Best Foot Forward Kindle versions are both available to download at 99 cts/77p.



Click image to buybff cover

Click image to buy