Like most writers I know, my desk is covered in piles of paper. I have seven paperweights on my desk; all in use, all hold some particular memory for me.
Newest is the SFMOMA ball-storm [below]: a rubber balled filled with liquid and coloured bits of plastic which swirl like a snowstorm when shaken. Bought at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art two years ago, it reminds me of a wonderful museum in a wonderful city. Click here for the SFMOMA website.
I love stones and two large ones sit on my desk as constant reminders of my second novel, Connectedness. Both stones [above] were selected off the beach at Flamborough Head in East Yorkshire, a few miles from where I grew up, on a beach where I imagine my protagonist Justine Tree walking. For artist Justine, who as a child lived in an isolated house on top of these cliffs, the sea and the wildness of the Yorkshire coast are a constant presence in her art.
Minty is an old name from the UK furniture trade and this wooden foot [below] was given to me many years ago by the company as a gift when I was editor of the UK’s furniture business magazine Cabinet Maker. It has a substantial presence on my desk and is immensely useful at the height of summer when my attic study is like a sauna and the large floor fan blows the warm air, and all my papers, around. The beautiful cream glass paperweight [below] is by Isle of Wight Glass and was given to me by the company when I visited as a journalist in The Eighties. It is a beautiful creation of clear glass marbled with white and flecks of gold.
Click here for Isle of Wight Glass’s website.
The oldest paperweight on my desk is, without doubt, the 1985 metal medal [below] presented to journalists attending the Salon du Meuble [The Furniture Show] in Paris. I visited every year for more than 20 years, but it was the only time the ‘official memento’ given to journalists [what can I say? It was The Eighties, PR budgets were big] which set off the alarms at Charles du Gaulle airport as hundreds of journalists had to unpack their suitcases to extract the offending souvenir medal. The exhibition still exists, now called Meuble Paris. If you’ve ever wondered what a furniture exhibition is all about, you can read more at the website here.
The last paperweight is a very English joke, from a very English television comedy show called The League of Gentlemen. Looking back, the humour is adult, peculiar and very dark, but it was a huge hit at its time spawning lots of odd catchlines such as “You’re my wife now”, “Justin, my Justin” and “This is a local shop, for local people”. The four cast members went onto greater individual things but the team did tour the UK with a stage show, which is where I bought this snowstorm: A Precious Thing. It’s an in-joke: the local shop for local people sells ‘precious things’. Confused? Want to know more? Watch episode 1/series 1 on You Tube here.
What do you use as a paperweight? Anything that hold memories for you, or has an interesting prior usage?