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The office reshuffle

The collateral damage is all around me as I type.

My go-to recycling bin, usually one-quarter to half full, has become a tower of rags, mags and refugee books.

Surfaces once long obscured by yellowing papers lie bare, desks last seen heading for the Bermuda Triangle have reappeared on the radar and plastic crates lie beside chairs like tired dogs in repose by their masters. As for the amount of neglected food being unearthed, the less said the better.

This ain't no bog-standard decluttering exercise. This is a bona fide office reshuffle, the source to many - chiefly feature writers, to be frank, the drama queens of the trade - of monumental distress. (It does make you wonder what kind of lives your colleagues lead. Me? Adaptability is my middle name and flexibility my mistress. Routines are for stand-ups - and feature writers.)

If you took the demeanour of certain colleagues at face value you might conclude that they had been spending time in the bowels of Bedlam.

This weekend's office moves will "improve efficiency and make co-ordination easier". These are worthwhile goals. Amen. I for one am more than happy to co-operate with Big Chief Office Shake-up.

The advice on the reshuffle continues: "The moves also offer a good chance to tidy up the office and scrap any unnecessary paper or other material lying around."

The problem here is that pretty much sums up many of the contents of the office, furniture and PCs aside. Few of us need the papers and books we surround ourselves with for, when God invented the internet, He negated the requirement for each desk to accommodate fat dictionaries and arcane grammatical texts (though not Scots Law For Journalists, I hasten to add).

But we like our reference books, our fading copies of memorable issues of newspapers and supplements. They let us keep our bearings in a restless sea. Unlike our ephemeral computers, they have - dare I say it - soul.

At this precise moment a colleague is preparing his crate for its impending transfer from the periphery of operations to the belly of the beast.

He will be overseas when the moves take place. He isn't happy. The stoor kicked up by clearing his desk has given him the "hands of a navvy". "If anyone touches this mug," he hisses as he places it in his crate, "they're dead."

See what I mean about distress? I'm keeping well away.

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