Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Features

The awards, the framed covers and the bullet proofed walls ... who has a man cave to Trump this?

This week we got a revealing insight into the personal space of the new US President. Two writers reveal why every man needs a room to call his own

By Declan Lawn

I've always been somewhat dubious about the idea of a man cave, since it seems to imply that a man has some God-given right to barricade himself away from the world. Sure, we all need some time alone now and again, but constructing an actual room for that purpose? Such a thing always seemed to me to be like digging a defensive trench against reality.

Nonetheless, within the last year, I've had two changes in my life that have led to the formation of - well, not a man cave exactly - but, shall we say, a little corner of my own?

Okay, okay, it's a man cave. Or, at least, a man cave frequently visited by my children.

Firstly, I left my staff job at the BBC to become a freelance TV documentary-maker, so I needed somewhere to work where I didn't have to order an Americano every hour or so.

Secondly, we moved house. Downstairs, just beside the kitchen, there is a smallish room. Before we moved in, my wife had plenty of plans for it and kept referring to it as a TV room and playroom for the children.

I had other plans, but naturally I kept quiet on the matter, as is only sensible.

Some battles are best fought incrementally.

After we moved in, the room had a sofa and TV. I suggested maybe putting a desk in the corner. Agreement was reached. To which I added a desk lamp. Then I found room for a small bookcase. My children grew suspicious, and asked whether this was a room for them, or for me. Naturally, I said it was for them. I felt we could discuss the reality of the situation in the fullness of time.

I admit that I got a bit St Andrews Agreement about the whole thing, considering the creation of a children's room as an annex to the negotiations that I didn't overtly sign up to at the time.

It wasn't until I hung my favourite painting - of Samuel Beckett - above the desk that my family guessed at my intention to colonise this space. With the addition of Sam, I had clearly hoisted my flag and claimed this new land for my own.

These days, I now labour away at my research and writing under his mournful, yet mischievous gaze.

My family bought me the portrait last year for my 40th birthday and I love it.

Sam serves two purposes - he reminds me not to be too precious when I'm writing something, because no matter how good I get, I'll never be as good as him, and also that sometimes, when it comes to creative ideas, you have to go ahead and embrace the absurd.

There's another element to this room that I love - the sofa. It's not really long enough to sleep on, because your feet drop off the end and this shortfall makes it the perfect berth for an afternoon nap.

After about 20 minutes, you get so uncomfortable that you wake up and, as any aficionado of the siesta knows, 20 minutes happens to be the perfect duration of a daytime micro-sleep.

It's unfortunate that our northern European working culture disdains that kind of thing as a mark of indolence and non-productivity, but luckily such capitalist conventions rarely bother me as I snore away in the early afternoon.

But would I describe my room as a man cave? No - and it never truly will be. As soon as the children get home from school, they tend to come in here, full of the business of the day, not necessarily to see their old man, but rather because the wi-fi in this room is better than anywhere else in the house.

Frankly, I don't mind this in the least - it gives me an excuse to stop working and I never intended it as a refuge from my family, or the real world.

Still, it's a lovely place to be in the quiet hours of the day and it genuinely has helped me to be a lot more productive than I was previously.

Sam and me - well, I suppose we rather like it here.

Declan Lawn is a freelance TV documentary-maker

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