How many clear surfaces do you have? Do they stay clear for long? If the answers to these questions are “Lots” and “Yes” then fair play to you. If you maintain this state of affairs with a house full of children, I congratulate you heartily (but I might need constant photographic evidence to support your answers). We have no clear surfaces. Every time I clear a surface at least one member of my family will take it as a challenge and put something, anything on it. I try to make sure that the kitchen table is completely clear at least once a day but by bedtime it will once again have become home to any or all of the following: books, notepads, pens and pencils, a Kindle Fire or two, used kitchen roll.
Since the following article was published in 2007 (“Writers’ rooms”: Russell Hoban) I have taken consolation from the picture and accompanying words. We have never had a room as cluttered as this:
Somewhere, in my own cluttered collections of newspaper articles and magazines, I have the paper original of this article. Given an hour or two I could probably lay my hands on it but while it’s available on the Guardian website I won’t need to go searching for it.