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Accessories after the fact

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What you keep on your desk can be very revealing. A selection of plants or a soft toy, for example, is usually a sign that you are a woman, but you probably noticed that anyway.

More subtle clues abound.

A photo of your children suggests you are spending too much time at the office and need a picture handy to remind you who is who when they phone up at bath time.

An Aston Villa team photograph shows you are trying to fit into your laddish office - and failing! A risque calendar from a showercubicle manufacturer indicates that you have gone native after spending too much time on site.

A stainless-steel executive toy means you are anything but, and that your mother, who gave it to you, is kept in ignorance of the fact, or has a hurtfully sarcastic side. If you pin a contractor's programme to the wall you obviously enjoy causing yourself unnecessary stress; contractors only issue them to get use out of the colour printer.

Postcards of obscure buildings - 'Oh yeah, that's by Lewerentz. He did this really interesting series of cemetery buildings' - signify terrible insecurity about the door schedules that occupy your days. Monographs on criticallyacclaimed architects suggest you are terribly insecure but at least are kept busy designing cut-price copies of the works of the famous. A framed photograph of famous Modernists looking uneasy in fancy-dress simply screams: 'I can't wait to get back to the provinces to do my Part 2.'

The only non-defining things on your desk are the unavoidable, the drawings and correspondence entering or leaving the office. Even here the quantity matters: too much and you can't cope, too little and you don't matter.

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