I can still remember my mum and I down at the local furniture shop - one of those places that looks like it specializes in stock rescued from the backs of trucks - and picking out a small, unassuming student desk in a dark, mahogany-finish MDF.
It was my first ever desk, and I conscientiously did my schoolwork at it for the next few years – right up until I completed my undergraduate degree, actually.
When I bought and moved into this house, the desk came with me, in the guise of a stand for the television set. Later, I used it to support the stereo that I was looking after for a friend while he was overseas (somewhere along the way I lost the surround-sound speakers, but not on purpose).
And now it is my sewing desk. The sewing machine has in fact been sitting there for the last 5 or 6 years, but now I actually sit at it to sew stuff.
I hadn’t cleaned the desk drawers in years, so going through the contents of the drawers brought back a few memories: the Margaret Sparrow book on contraception, which was most valuable at a certain time in my life; the belt bags that I bought for my overseas trips and never used (because who wants to look like they eat twice as much pizza as they really do?); the grey fabric dye I bought to fix my favourite jeans following a laundry catastrophe (but they'd shrunk too, so I didn't have to fix the colour stain); the sewing patterns for clothes I never finished (there’s a lesson there); and the drawful of music cassette tapes.
There’s a lot you can tell about me from my collection of music cassette tapes, if you don’t have a million other things you’d rather do.
Spanning the 80's and 90's, it includes AOR, NZ indie, and stuff I can’t even remember listening to. Amongst the slightly uncool Hall and Oates, Beach Boys and Jimmy Barnes, there’re the mystifiying selections of Desmond Dekker, Ofra Haza (didn’t she have a dance hit in the 90’s?) and Linda Ronstadt singing in Spanish. Some I bought as souvenirs of my travels: Ram Narayan, I got while waiting for a bus in India; Aguas Claras, bought in Peru; The Peking Brothers after I saw them busking in London.
Some, I wish I’d got on CD, so I could play them now: Prince and the Revolution (x 2); Bill Withers; U2; Hunters and Collectors (x2); The Psychedelic Furs; Straitjacket Fits; Nina Simone; Hot Chocolate.
I’m faintly embarrassed to have: Nigel Kennedy’s Four Seasons (a present); Apache Indian; Jimmy Barnes (x2); and Kid Creole and the Coconuts. The Tom Jones tape belongs in this category, but then it was an in-joke referring to the time I got the Welshman confused with Sean Connery (and after I’d been living in Edinburgh for almost a year!).
I’m loathe to dispose of the little buggers, but we don’t have a cassette player – I don’t know whether anyone does any more. Perhaps I could just keep the cover inserts, for old times' sake, and ditch the tapes at the dump.