By popular demand..(OK, Alex Butler missed the quirkiness of our readers’ working environments), we have brought back Desk of the Week.
This week, archeaologist and author Francis Pryor emerges from the bookshelves, hoping to find space to write
We designed the layout of our house when we built it in 1994. The room that became my office was supposed to be a dining room, but it never worked out that way, because we don’t ‘do’ dining or dinner parties. We eat in an annexe to the kitchen, farmhouse-style. That way food remains hot.
When we moved into the house it was still an empty shell and we soon realised that we’d need far more bookshelves than we’d anticipated. So we persuaded the nice carpenter who was building the staircase to make us heavy-duty bookshelves out of floorboards. I then painted them all in a splendid Victorian matte pinkish red, known as Book Room Red, after the country house where it survived from the 19th century. My office has three sets of bookshelves: a wallful behind my desk, which is where I keep books I’m using for my current (non-fiction) writing project, and two others, where I stack journals and other reference volumes.
Then there are two huge sets of bookshelves in the sitting room, on either side of the fireplace. Half of these are given over to archaeology, the remainder are about gardening, farming and mostly practical topics. Upstairs we have three sets of shelves given over to fiction – and then there’s Maisie’s office, which also has a large wall lined with books on ancient wood-working.
All around my office are huge plastic storage boxes stuffed full of past runs of archaeological journals. They weigh too much to lift comfortably and I often skip them and go to the web instead. My office has pictures of various Quaker ancestors and a small bookshelf stuffed with jazz CDs. My favourite object is a an early 20th century model of a 19th century steam beam pumping engine, which would actually work, if I had the temerity to fire-up its boiler. It’s surrounded with other things that I like: a lugubrious Nepalese drummer, given to me by my brother Felix, a tinplate vintage Bugatti and a JCB loader. I’m not sure how the JCB got there, as I don’t really like it that much. But it did – and about fifteen years ago.
And if you are inspired, here’s our guide to self publishing featuring Unbound.