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6:23pm on Sunday, 22nd February, 2009:

Where I Work #4


Continuing the occasional series...

Last time, I left you with the cliff-hanging question of what was underneath a selection of odd-sized carrier bags. Here's the answer:

OK, so those brown boxes are lineprinter paper boxes from the days when Essex University used lineprinter paper. These days, there isn't a lot of call for 11x14.5-inch paper, so you don't see such boxes around much now. When I was a student, though, there were so many of them kicking around in the Computing Department that you could have however many you wanted.

Inside the boxes are stacks of useless pieces of official paper — tax returns, bank statements, that kind of thing. I keep them because if government officials jump on me for their being incompetant, I have the appropriate documents to defend myself. This has indeed happened in the past, when the Inland Revenue managed to confuse me and my brother so we both had his wife, my address and stern letters telling us we hadn't paid enough tax.

The bottom box doesn't have papers in. Originally, it was my "towers survival kit": when I was a student, I used to spend the summer staying at the university working, and I'd get a room in one of the towers as part of my wages. I kept a box with all the things in it that I needed for living in the tower that I didn't need when I was in digs, and this is that box. It's actually the second such box — the original had "TSK" written on the lit, but this one has "Towers Survival Kit" on it. I think some of the things I had back then may still be in it, but the bulk of the plates, pieces of cutlery and light bulbs were moved elsewhere long ago. Inside it today are old watch straps, pieces of cotton wool, candles, the insides of musical boxes, my old Rubik's cube, a set of marked playing cards, some old matchboxes for my Grandad, some very old chequebooks, a few strange business cards, a map of the Cabinet War Rooms and a book containing a list of everything I spent money on between Thursday 21st July and Wednesday 12th October 1983. There's a bunch of other stuff, too.

Hmm, put like that, it sounds as if that bottom box is full of rubbish...

Next to the boxes are three briefcases. The one on the left is solid-sided but one of the clasps doesn't work. It's got some game design materials in it (for a Loony Tunes design that never got off the ground) and a small selection of MUSE Ltd merchandise (pens and business cards) that I used to carry around. This briefcase was superseded by the middle one, which is my "current" one. If I need to take a briefcase with me, this is the one I take. It's a bit dusty, because actually I don't need to take a briefcase anywhere more than a few times a year. I used to put my laptop on it, but airline security is now such that I only get one piece of carry-on luggage so I use something larger instead of two things that are smaller. The briefcase on the right is where I keep my laptop, and because it gets used all the time it's dust-free.

On top of the briefcase is my umbrella. As for what's behind them, that'll come another time (ooh, what a tease I am!).

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).