Al Desko

Before we start, just a quick reminder about the 28th November – See last week’s post.

Also, don’t forget that you can donate here

Right then, last week saw the sharing of writing desks by a couple of poets that I admire immensely – Josephine Corcoran and Robin Houghton and I would love to be able to share mine, but alas I don’t have one.

I’ve often fantasised about having a place to write or work at. The idea of a shed at the bottom of the garden to call my own appeals, but would I use it? I like the idea of a place by a river. I don’t want to be David Cameron with his writing shed/caravan/hut. Although, to be fair I could have stopped after the word Cameron.

My wife has colonised the spare room in our house and turned it into her office. At one point I was lucky enough to have a shelf in there to call my own, but even that has changed now.

But before you break out the violins….

…I’m not sure it matters.

This week I applied for the Writers At Sea residency in Margate, and part of the application process requires you to say why you are applying, as well as a bit about your work and what you plan to do while you’re there. More on how the application goes when I know how the application has gone.

In my notes about why I was applying I wrote:
“The actual act of writing happens in the liminal spaces of the day, the commute to work when a seat is available on the train, when I’m waiting to collect my wife and daughter from their dance lessons, in the time before a meeting (assuming there isn’t more pressing work to be done), the time while an egg boils —Four minutes twenty-five seconds is about enough time to open a notebook and remove a comma, although obviously it will go straight back in after breakfast.”

I’ve got used to this peripatetic way of working and so I suspect that unless we win the lottery, it will remain the same way for a long time.

As I write this I am sat at our kitchen table—no eggs are boiling—and that seems to be where a lot of my writing happens. The other main location seems to be at my desk at work. IN MY LUNCH HOUR, BOSS!!!

I’ve said it before and I’m saying again, for me it doesn’t matter where I am. If I was doing this for a living then it might be different, but as long as I have something to lean on then I’m good.

And, while I don’t have a desk at home, the plus side is that it doesn’t get messy. Rachael gets really cross if I leave stuff on the table. My desk at work is a total mess, but I’m not showing you that.


  1. Priority Seat
  2. Orthopaedic Hovercraft (Credit to my wife for this one)
  3. The Screaming of Rhubarb
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Tans
  5. Burnt Parsnips


17K running – Missed a run this week due to a visiting mother

0 Poems worked on Nada, nowt, zilch. Although, half an idea about a combination of Unwinese and Nadsat.

27 days without cigarettes. May have smoked yesterday, but it’s a blip.

1 rejection email – From Primers. There’s a magnificent looking shortlist of poets though, so I can’t wait to see who gets chosen.

1 flurry of submissions – Now I have a load of poems back I can send a load out again. That’s how it works

1 introduction to Stanley Unwin I’m pleased to have introduced someone to the work of Sir Stanley…

1 review published – Jane Lovell’s This Tilting Earth

1 more week that I’m not having an affair with Eva Green


The Doomed City by Arkady & Boris Strugatsky
Island of Towers, Clarissa Aykroyd


Not a lot, couple of Dublin Murders and a Rugby World Cup final..

Listened to:
Vetiver, Up on High, Thing of the Past
REM, Monster
Michael Kiwanuka, Kiwanuka
Anna Meredith, Fibs
808 State, Transmission Suite
and of course, The Archers…

4 thoughts on “Al Desko”

  1. First, good luck with the Writers at Sea residency which looks marvellous! Also, I think I read somewhere that Frederick Forsyth wrote ‘The Day of the Jackal’ at an ironing board when he was between houses and sleeping on a friend’s floor – so not having a desk didn’t hold him back! But I’m glad of my desk because it does help me contain my chaos a bit. Doesn’t make me any better at writing, unfortunately. x

    1. Thank you. I’d love to go to the residency… if only for a week of peace and quiet, but mainly the time to write.

      I like the idea of the ironing board improvisation, especially having just done the ironing- sadly nothing came to me while I was doing the shirts.

      I’d say you’re doing fine on the writing front. I’d love to see anything new that’s ready…

      1. This is good news and I’ll wait patiently for the day we get to see some.

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