Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


The old desk.

It's about the size of the Titanic. You don't so much sit at it as pilot it. It was built in the 1930s by Danish craftsmen from some Scandinavian tree or other, that was clearly sacrificed specifically for the purpose. There wouldn't have been much left of it. The warm grain of the desk glows chocolate russet coffee according to the light, especially when you give it a loving polish with Marveer. The whole thing is rounded like an early barge. The drawers to either side of your chair are enclosed behind curved lockable timber doors that are attached to the desk by full-length brass hinges. The lock inlays are also of brass, and the keys are the old-style substantial ones in stainless steel, meaning you won't lose them. Two more lockable doors in the front, to either side of the foot well, hide cavernous stowage. With the desk against a wall, these cupboards act as concealed storage, making them ideal for storing your life savings or your rare whisky. Make sure you won’t have to access either of these quickly, as the whole thing has the weight of two elephants. It might be easier getting your money out of a failed Spanish bank. If you prefer to have your desk freestanding and facing the door, private eye-style, your client sits about half a suburb away.

I always wanted a desk like that, and one day I got one. But then we ran out of room. So the desk has to go.

But no-one wants desks any more. Even 1930s art deco ones built for Danish bank managers with enough room for the secreta ...

... enough room for his cigar boxes and diecast collection of early Scandinavian motor cars.


I know this because I tried to sell it. And no-one bought it, at any price. So I’m disposing of it another way. I’m going to burn it in the back yard.

Just kidding. I’m donating it to the op shop, where its very appearance in the front window is guaranteed to sell it. If they can get it into the front window. They’re picking the desk up on Thursday. I’ve already found a replacement. It takes up half the space, and has no concealed cupboards; but the top has a nice antique patina that comes up beautifully with a sweep of Marveer under a clean cloth.

You can’t have everything.

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