Grandpa Webb's blog

Thursday, 03 January 2013

How to avoid spring-cleaning the office

Who is this Grandpa Webb?Spring is here and grandma’s thoughts are turning towards a good tidy-up. While it pours with rain or is freezing outside, she is indoors turning out cupboards, checking the contents of wardrobes: (“You honestly aren’t going to wear that again are you?”)  And finding things everyone had forgotten about in chests of drawers.  

I have a small office in the house. It was once the little bedroom; then, some years ago when the children left, we hauled out the bed and replaced it with an IKEA desk. I bought a personal computer from Gateway. I remember it had a processor in a tower under the desk which I occasionally switched off by accident with my foot.

After the Gateway, I bought a Sony PC that has its processor above the desk at the back of its flat screen, and which stays on no matter what I’m doing with my feet. I lose less work, but to remind me of the good old days the original files that survived are in a folder labelled ‘Gateway.’

In its heyday the office had two PCs – the second one was lent to me by the organisation I was working for at the time and was connected to an office-wide network, so everybody was ‘in the loop.’ 

The pilling machine and its harvestNow my office is back to one rather old Sony PC and is a place to store such things as Christmas presents, the collapsible clothes airer that is erected in the bathroom when it’s wet outside, and things we’re not sure about before they eventually get packed up and go to the charity shop.

The office has a new IKEA rug on the floor which covers the black stain on the carpet where I dropped a Canon ink cartridge, its shelves are full of books, box files, used jiffy envelopes, tapes and CDs, beer tankards, model cars, wine glasses, a radio-controlled model boat, assorted stationery and old pictures. The desk has a cracked mug full of old pens, most of which don’t work, while the drawers are full of assorted junk including lots of electrical stuff which may or may not come in useful one day.    

I think grandma would dearly like me to tidy it up a bit and chuck away some of the junk. But as soon as I start, I find it very difficult to make a decision. For instance, the top drawer of my desk contains many assorted bits of ball-point pens. I wouldn’t want to throw these away as any one of them could be used to repair a good pen that had broken. There’s also a rubber ring that seals something – I’m not sure what – and a rubber foot off something. If I throw them away, what will I do when I find something minus a rubber ring or rubber foot?

So, as a delaying tactic, today the office is in textile mode. The PC is pushed back to the wall and on the desk is a newly laundered pullover, from which I am removing the pills; an easy enough process with the right equipment, but one which takes quite a bit of time – so much time, in fact, that when I am finished, there will be none left over to tidy the office.

What is a pill? Well, if you buy, um, inexpensive wool pullovers, you will notice after a time they develop lots of tiny balls of fluff on the outside, where a jacket or coat has rubbed against them. When this happens you can ignore them and look progressively more like a woolly dog, buy a new inexpensive pullover, or remove them.It's not junk - i'm sure it will all come in useful some day

My Remington pill removing machine has a series of holes like a pepper-pot, behind which whirl three small blades, a bit like a rotary electric razor. The idea is to move the pepper-pot section over the pills, which are trapped in the holes and neatly decapitated by the rotating blades behind. The whole thing is powered by a 1.5 volt torch battery, and includes a small container to catch the fluff.

It’s a fine theory. Alas the pills on my pullovers seem to have a strong survival instinct and while they are ducking and weaving, it takes quite a number of passes and some ingenious movements of the gadget to catch them all.

The reward is an as-new(ish) pullover and the fact that I have once again managed to find an excuse to avoid clearing out the office. The only trouble is that one day I know I will run out of pullovers...

Got a question for Grandpa Webb? Send him an email.

Go back