Where I Write: A Kitchen Without A View
I’ve spent my career conjuring up advertising campaigns in small dark offices, frenetic hotel foyers, shoogling planes, hurtling night trains, steamy cafés and friendly watering holes. Comfort or terrific views never featured.
On occasion, when I’m freelancing, I’m seated in a large open plan office where people shout down phones, tempers fray and the radio belches out cheery pop songs. There’s one thing that can turn the surrounding chaos into silence: the palpitation-inducing fear of a looming deadline. When the noises fade and you sip your coffee only to find it’s gone cold, you know you’ve found that space where there’s nothing else except you and your thoughts. This is where the magic happens.
I often fantasise about where my perfect place to write would be. Cue the ripple dissolve. It’s a small cottage, most likely on the northwest coast of Scotland. I sit at an uncluttered desk. The panoramic ocean vista could easily grace the front cover of a VisitScotland brochure. And it’s peaceful – except for the soft rhythmic tapping of my fingertips on the keyboard.
In reality, as soon as a seagull flapped across this idyllic scene, I’d stop typing to watch it like a fox. My mind would wander. Was it a Jonathan Livingston seagull? Or a common gull desperate for its next ice cream fix? Perhaps an afternoon stroll on the beach with a precariously stacked vanilla cone would not be such a wise idea after all.
I attempted to work at the desk in my sitting room, which is equipped with everything a writer could possibly need. From here you can peer into the sandstone flats opposite. After ten minutes or so, I changed into Jimmy Stewart’s character from Rear Window, minus the plaster cast. I’d scratch my back with a ruler and wonder what was in the suitcase Mr Allen was struggling to heave into his car?
With a sigh and a blank computer screen, I relocated to the kitchen. In the winter it’s a breezy place, thanks to a gap in the window frame. In the summer it becomes a favourite holiday destination for ants wanting to let their hair down and live a little. I can’t complain; their conga lines are always orderly.
Cautious to keep all distractions to a minimum, I sit facing a wall. It’s decorated with a hotchpotch of colourful postcards, dog-eared posters and beloved prints. I never tire of gazing at them.
Sounds from the surrounding flats and communal gardens float in. Magpies rattle thuggishly before tearing holes in treasure-filled, black gleaming bin bags. Dishes clatter, babies babble and squeak, couples rage and make up. The evening brings with it a chorus of televisions, the heavy tread of the neighbour upstairs, and cries from students celebrating their newly-found freedom.
The kitchen is not quiet nor is it a room with an enviable view. But it’s a place where the pressure of a deadline is never needed. As soon as I start writing everything stills and time melts away. My coffee always grows cold.