Thursday, 20 October 2011

My professional love affair with a giraffe


There is so much to do at the moment I consider writing this blog post a break from all the other chores. Over the last 12 months I wrote about 10 lectures, most of them very serious and perhaps boring for some students/guests. One, however, quite unexpectedly became a hit: "George IV and his Giraffe: A Tale of Politics, Exoticism and Science".

I have never seen so much enjoyment in a lecture audience, and it works both ways: I do actually get a great deal of pleasure giving this talk, and continue researching the subject with great joy.

Hence the current giraffe invasion on top of my bureau:
  • Two Schleich giraffes ("borrowed" from my daughter);
  • an early 20th c book on animals with a fabulous giraffe-themed spine;
  • a rare book on menageries published in 1829 just weeks before George's poor giraffe died at the menagerie at Windsor Great Park;
  • a quirky American publication on The Giraffe in History and Art from 1928,
  • and Huish's Memoirs of George IV (2nd vol.) from 1831, which includes a picture of G4 riding his ponychaise to his menagerie at Windsor (see below).

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

People and their desks

I am indebted to Alan Fricker of the Health Informaticist for alerting me to a fascinating and well-made film, People and their Desks.
The desks may not be typical; all the subjects interviewed in the six minutes are designers of one sort or another.
At the end, one asks what the future of the desk might be, and postulates that it will become a 'state of mind'.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

My father's desk

Freud, in popular belief, taught that every son wishes to kill his father and sleep with his mother. He forgot to mention desks. I've told in an earlier post how I use my father's desk, which stood in his surgery. In this morning's Guardian the poet Simon Rae explores his father's desk.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

A summer desk







Summer is over, I suppose, but I thought I should show my summer desk. I have to say that, delightful as it sounds to sit in the sun, working away, in reality I spend little time working outdoors.

The chief reason is the wind. In Seaford we have a great deal, so only massively bound books will stay put on the table. The short route to despair is to try to take anything on individual sheets of paper outside. The Mac's screen is more or less invisible in bright sunlight, so computer-based work is ruled out. Nevertheless, how many other offices have passion-flowers?

I have been workless since the end of July, but I hope to be able to tell you of a new office before long.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Cows, croissants and chili plants - Sascha's desk in summer

It's summer, it's busy and the office desk reflects that. Mini Jaffa-cakes AND a croissant (the second one this morning) show that I am desperately in need of a holiday. Elsewhere there is book on Schopenhauer which was up for grabs in one of the academic corridors yesterday. This is what I like about working at a university. You go to the ladies and come back with a biography of Schopenhauer, most likely signed by the author or translator. I am growing chili plants in my office, there is a small cow on my computer and a picture of my dear colleague Robin, who died last month. I feel very privileged to have inherited his office mug (by the telephone), from Glyndebourne season 2009. In a post-modern twist the very blog you are reading right now can be seen on the monitor.

Monday, 10 May 2010

A desk in Brighton's Kremlin

Not much activity on the Desk Diaries blog recently, so I thought I'd get things started again.
I am very happy because for this whole week I have that fabulous office at the north end of the Royal Pavilion at my disposal again where I spent the strange but very inspiring first year of my doctoral research. It is the old director's office and still houses the main Pavilion reference library. Many of the books have the names of previous directors of the Pavilion in them. They are the ghosts of people who worked and researched in the building.

I love the spaciousness of the room, the mild chaos, its relative timelessness. In the absence of a director I had unlimited use of the office and the old wooden desk (now no longer there) for over a year,  and spent it working my way through the archives and library and gazing through the large windows a lot of the time. The person who now works there is away for a week and I can use it again. Utter bliss. I didn't bring my camera today, so this picture is from the time when I was based there in 2008.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

At last

Here, at last, is Virginia Woolf's desk, behind glass, so I fear the photograph is not the best. I bet that Eamonn McCabe was allowed the other side of the glass. Note the objects on the desk: some files, some pencils, daffodils, a pair of spectacles. Would that my own desk looked like this. I should like to dedicate this afternoon's performance to Sascha Loske.



For more photographs taken at Monk's House this afternoon, see http://www.flickr.com/photos/tomroper/tags/monkshouseapril2010/. I made friends with the cat.



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