Many, many years ago my father acquired an old pedal reed organ. Having been constructed some 100 years ago, it had been partially reconditioned in 1962. It’s bellows leaked air, so my father patched up the holes with medical tape. Still, he would play it often enough until his hearing went. After his death, I mentioned to my mother that the organ has some beautiful timber that I would love to use. Initially, she was not so keen on the idea of me dismantling the thing and reusing the wood, so I let the suggestion lie. At last, she agreed that it would perhaps be the best use. But what to make out of it? Obviously, a bench for the kitchen sink.

When it first arrived in the kitchen, after some time under construction, it was a little threadbare:


But after we completed the finishing touches, it finally began to feel at home:



It has many features from the old organ, such as the stops and swells:




And I could not miss the opportunity to find a prominent place for the organ manufacturer’s name:


As also the agent in Australia:


Strangely, the sink and its bench are about the same size as the original organ, which now has a new life:



Having recently demolished our kitchen, I realised how much crap there really is in a kitchen. Endless cupboards made out of some substance – chipboard – that continues to exude fumes for its entire life, a stove, a fridge, a sink, plumbing, benches, tiles, table and chairs … the stream of stuff out was endless. And people thought we had nothing in our kitchen. Some have freezers and dishwashers and ice machines and coffee makers and what have you.

So how much do you really need in a kitchen? No more than three items: a source of water, a bowl to hold water and a fire. That’s it. In fact, most people throughout human history and even today have little more than those three items. All the rest is junk, the detritus of generating needs that we never knew we had.

Given that one should aim to sit no more than four hours a day (absolute maximum is eight) and given that you need to sell a body part in order to buy a lectern so you can stand and read, I decided to make one for myself – all out of odds and ends:


It’s a good height …

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With some nice twists:

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Once the linseed oil is dry, I’ll be using it often as I read with the harbour in the corner of my eye:

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All sorts of rumour on this one – that he was an ascetic, that the relationship was purely convenient for party purposes, that he was gay, etc.

But when Nadya arrived in Shushenskoye in 1898, they set about swimming, ice-skating, hiking and … energetic bonking, as randy young couples do. So why didn’t she become pregnant? In reply to the discreet inquiries from Lenin’s mother, Maria Alexandrovna, as to when she might expect a grandchild, Nadya wrote:

As far as my health is concerned I am quite well but as far as concerns the arrival of a little bird – there the situation is, unfortunately, bad; somehow no little bird wants to come.

Krupskaya in Lenin’s Collected Works, Volume 37, p. 578.

In the process of collecting notes for a travel story on Germany, I can’t help noticing the fascination with and ubiquity of sausages. Walk the streets and they are masticating all manner of Würste, short, long, thick, thin, dark, light, you name it, they eat it.

With more observation, this curious phenomenon is beginning to become a little more complex …

… especially if one takes into account the fact that sausages are traditionally made from the large and small intestines. So what they are really doing is perpetually consuming all manner of ‘processed’ food.

Now, another feature of German life is the famous shelf toilet, where one can do one’s thing and then have it before you in all its steaming glory.

It’s not so much a philosphical issue, but one that shows a desire to take it up and ‘recycle’ it in creative ways. Hence the sausages. Even more, these toilets come with instructions for use, indicating a more complex fascination:

Haven’t quite managed to get to the bottom of this, so my field work continues.

Here in Newcastle a battle royal is under way between a ‘business-friendly’ dominated city council and the local residents (plus the greens and the mayor). The issue: iconic 80 year-old figs in the city centre. You see, the council wants them removed, but everytime they try, some old fogeys chain themselves to the trees, swear at the council workers and fart in their general direction.

Meanwhile, a visitor with less than 20-20 vision was in town and noticed one of the many protests. Peering across, he then turned to his host and said, ‘Save our fags! Isn’t that wonderful. I heard Australia is on the way to recognising gay marriage’.

So he walked on over and effusively congratulated one of the protestors for their progressive stand, only to look up at the placard and read ‘Save our figs‘.

The possibilities are endless:

In between swimming at the beach and reading Lenin during the early signs of autumn, I have been scrounging the neighbourhood for wood. Old bed-heads, cupboards, shelves, the last pieces my father collected before he died – as long as the wood is good quality. None of that chipboard shit. Sand, saw, drill and dowel – the pieces eventually come together into a bookshelf.

But what to put in it? Or rather, what can be rearranged to ease the overflow?

Of course, all those eminently useful ancient languages need a new home.

Next? I have just found (ht to sc) a great old cupboard … destined for a kitchen somewhere.