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Most weeks, someone in my Instagram feed posts a photo of their desk.
Don’t look at the screen like that, I don’t make the rules, it’s just something writers and freelancers do when they’re meant to be working. They put their white iMac in position, a nice notebook to one side, natural light behind, some sort of shrub, motivational quote on the wall. It’s a thing.
Anyway, I’m not one to buy into the Perfect Lives of Instagram in any other respect, but these desks, mate, these desks are something else. Some people look at couples, or babies, or beach sunsets and think that person has clearly peaked.
Not me. I’m just after one of these bloody perfect desks.
Between 2011 and 2014, I moved house five times.
That’s not particularly unusual for shared housing in London, but it’s exhausting, annoying, and still makes you wonder if you’re a terrible person nonetheless. Even if you sign a yearly contract, you have to start thinking about moving or renewing around the 8-10 month mark. There’s barely time to unpack, let alone commit to something big and important like a desk.
So when I first moved into the flat I’m in now in late 2014, one of the many things I was genuinely excited about – aside from no longer living with a girl who thought it was ok to put up framed IKEA pictures on my wall when I went away – was realising my room had a bit of extra space.
I filled it with a £40 quid flatpack desk from Dalston Argos, and it was a pretty big deal.
My mum and dad came over to pick it up and put it together. Then we went for lunch, and then because it was an important occasion, we went to see the goats. Because not only was I finally moving into a bedroom that was both the right shape and big enough to accommodate some extra furniture, it was a statement of intent: this time, I planned on sticking around.
I had grand plans for that desk. It was going to be neat and tidy like the ones you see on Instagram.
Alas, I’ve been in this flat for three years now, and the desk exists as a dumping ground, a landfill for my waking life. It’ll never get 100+ likes and it’s not a place to write down my thoughts: I’d forget them before I’d cleared a space.
But after years of faffing and stressing, doing the rounds on London’s rental market, it’s a small, messy triumph. A sign that good things come from Dalston Argos and that it is possible to rent and feel settled in a city where it can be hard to find your place.