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History | Citizenship | PSHE | Relationships and health

How a room of your own can really shape you

Does your room help form your character? Joe Biden removed a bust of Winston Churchill from his office yesterday and replaced it with Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez and Martin Luther King. A row is brewing over Joe Biden's removal of a bust of Winston ChurchillThe British prime minister during World War Two, and later from 1951 to 1955. from the Oval Office, five years after Barack Obama provoked a storm by having the British leader's image relegated outside to a landing. In keeping with tradition, Joe Biden has transformed the Oval Office, swapping Donald Trump’s gold embellishments for a dark blue rug and symbolic reminders of America’s past. In place of Winston Churchill stand the figures of civil rights leaders, a huge portrait of Franklin D RooseveltThe US president between 1932 and 1942. The only president ever to serve more than two terms, he utterly transformed the face of his country, bringing in social programmes that have endured to this day., and a single moon rock. For deputy director of Oval Office operations Ashley Williams “It was important for President Biden to show who he is going to be as president”. But others say that Biden believes the new inhabitants of his office will help him to be a better president. Meanwhile, far, far away high up on the clifftop, protected from the crashing waves below, stands a magnificent palace. Inside, from the vast theatre to the opulent casino, everything is covered in gold. No expense has been spared in this millionaire’s playground. Guests can drink in the cocktail room, worship in the Byzantine-style church, hold ice hockey tournaments in an underground bunker and relax on ornate Italian furniture at the enormous spa. But first, they will have to get there. Set in a 190,000 square foot estate, 39 times the size of Monaco, this is more of a fortress than a home. It has its own harbour, border-checkpoints and even a no-fly zone. According to an extraordinary documentary released this week by supporters of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, this is in fact the £1 bn Black Sea home of President Vladimir Putin. Now, more than ever before, as lockdown turns office meetings into home video-conferences, people’s rooms are on display. In Wiltshire, author Vikram Seth’s music room is filled with family photographs, a Tintin-inspired ship and an 8-metre long scroll of Chinese calligraphy. Others take a more practical approach. For novelist Fay Weldon her desk, bought on sale in 1980, is an essential item. “That’s all you need to establish yourself somewhere; a big desk and a bed.” And some rooms are simply bizarre. When artist Polly Morgan could not find enough animals in unconventional poses to furnish her flat, she began to make them herself. Now, she is the owner of a stuffed fox with octopus tentacles protruding from its stomach, inspired by her experience of a burst appendix. So, does your room help form your character? Space control Yes, say some. It is undeniable – the more time we spend in a room, especially during lockdown, the more the items within it come to change how we think and act. FDR is remembered as the man who led America through the darkest days of the 20th Century. By putting his portrait centre stage, Joe Biden hopes it will inspire him to face the coronavirus crisis with the same strength of character. No, say others. The items someone chooses to have in their room are merely a reflection of who they already are. Building a lavish mansion on the Black Sea did not make Vladimir Putin an extravagant person; rather, he built the palace because he already was one. Interior design is a vehicle for creative expression, not a pillar of somebody’s personality. KeywordsWinston Churchill - The British prime minister during World War Two, and later from 1951 to 1955.

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