Claire Black: A desk that looks like Stig of the Dump’s gaff can impact on our happiness

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RECENTLY, I found myself perusing a photo stream of the desks of people who work at Vanity Fair. Yes, you are entitled to wonder about both my use of time and the egotism of people who publish snaps of their own work spaces.

But all I wondered was how I’d manage to miss my opportunity for an office with a view of the Manhattan skyline.

And then, I was rudely shaken from my reverie by a shocking sight. One of the desks pictured looked like it had been barfed on by a paper-eating giant. I know there was a half-eaten pastrami sandwich and a couple of fousty gherkins nestling in there somewhere. I can only imagine that the slovenly soul who sits there was off sick when the photos were posted online.

Mind you, I’m one to talk. In front of me as I write is an open packet of dried apricots containing that slightly dodgy one that always seems to be the last one in the pack. It’s been there for three days. There’s a strand of ribbon that’s been there for three years (I keep thinking it’ll come in handy), a postcard of a baby pearly king (so cute) and several vertiginous piles of books (I cycle – they’re prohibitively heavy). Messy? Moi?

There is a pair of clicking doll eyes which have languished beneath my screen for several years. But even this litany of slatternly conduct, isn’t as bad as it could be. I mean, I have yet to be formally reprimanded by my boss.

In a survey published last week, one in 10 of those polled had been given a warning by their superior for the state of their desk. More than a third said their work space was strewn with food, empty wrappers and bottles. Nearly half admitted that they’d lost important paperwork. On. Their. Own. Desk.

Unsurprisingly, researchers also found that having a desk that looks like Stig of the Dump’s gaff can impact on our happiness and productivity. More than half asked said that they feel an immediate rise in their stress levels when are faced with their messy desk.

Alas, around the same number said they only tidy theirs once a month. I’d always thought that wet wiping one’s desk was a displacement activity to avoid working. Now it turns out that 80 per cent of people feel more productive when their desks are spic and span. Pass the Pledge, will you?

• When you discover that even Pope Francis I travels by bus, the fact that Geri Halliwell until last week had not been on the London Underground for 17 years seems even more ludicrous than it did when she was just the least talented member of a girl band that, thankfully, expired long ago. Seventeen years. Unbelievable. What made it even more excruciating was that she decided to tweet her top tips for Underground travellers. This, despite the fact that 1,107 million people each year already manage their journeys without the aid of the spice once known as Ginger.

• I WOULDN’T dream of using this column to simply moan about personal issues, such as the perilous state of the road surface on the street where I live. Certainly not. But since the AA have revealed that drivers in Scotland are most likely to report pothole damage to their cars, I feel there is now a public interest aspect to my carping. Apparently a paltry 10 per cent of those polled rated their local roads as very good or excellent. Where were the lowest ratings? Need you ask… Scotland of course.

• Last week Claire... received a CD which included a track which, according to the press release, had been used on a “particularly poignant” Persil ad

Twitter: @Scottiesays