Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A voyage around my bedroom

At the start of the summer I moved my desk (dining table) into my bedroom. A friend remembered that an ex used to warn never to do this as it affects your sleep but my bedroom is at the front of the flat, which gets sunshine most of the day - when it's sunny - and gives me a sense of the bustle on the street when working.

This set-up does mean your bed is soon covered with reference books, scraps of paper and magazines - it's like being a student again. But at least it's not like Proust; in his book How Proust Can Change Your Life (1997; pictured), Alain de Botton quotes a friend of the writer, Marie Nordlinger: 'The apparent discomfort in which he worked was quite incredible; the bed was littered with books and papers, his pillows were all over the place, a bamboo table on his left was piled high, and more often than not, there was no support for whatever he was writing on (no wonder he wrote illegibly), with a cheap wooden penholder or two lying where it had fallen on the floor.' Thank goodness for my laptop.

Five years later, de Botton touched once more upon writing in bedrooms, in his book The Art of Travel. He recounts the tale of 27-year-old author Xavier de Maistre who, in 1790, undertook a Journey Around My Bedroom. Eight years later the Frenchman ventured a little further, to the windowsill, at night, in Nocturnal Expedition Around My Bedroom. It is a genre de Botton dubs 'room-travel'. De Maistre, de Botton writes, 'particularly recommended room-travel to the poor and to those afraid of storms, robberies and high cliffs.'

I've been fortunate to venture a little further this summer but then I did have to pack more than de Maistre, who needed only 'a pair of pink and blue cotton pyjamas'. I do, however, possess such a pair of stripey pyjama bottoms, so perhaps I'm not as ill-equipped for this lifestyle as I feared.

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