Wednesday 18 July 2012

Typing With Dinosaurs

Alf found my old typewriter this lunchtime.
He’d been digging about amongst the boxes, clutter and cobwebs that hide in terrified corners of my little house hoping for a rope-lighter and some plum jam he swore he’d put away for better days (and presumably for the next time he happened to find me livinh somewhere near Ypres). Alf found it very funny, because Alf is always very modern; albeit very modern in 1976. At best.
The stained little Olivetti portable still had the same ribbon so many times wound back and with me grabbing no more than a heel of bread and a pot of worried humus for lunch he tried to read back what had been written on it all those years ago. I learned to type on my dad’s big old typewriter and later a little Olivetti. I typed because thirty years ago there were fanzines and postal games, and turn reports to write – and how little then things have changed. The original laptop whose keys I’d pound, and probably because of which the keyboard I use now infuriates my family because almost all the keys are blank from constant use. Back then we’d sort of have the internet – letter columns in fanzines so a reply to a discussion would come every few months and the simple things we take for granted now, formatting and stuff-looking-nice would have been high science-fiction indeed. The very idea of this, this blog for example, would have been thought something that might be around with hover cars and skin-suits. Hell, they didn’t have anything like this in Logan’s Run or The Stainless Steel Rat so it would have been pretty alien technology at best.
But we forget how long ago that was. Thirty years. Thirty years before that and rock and roll was a devilish new invention. Thirty years ago when typing was something girls did in school (when girls learned how to be secretaries), and we sent things by post. But my, that was exciting! I used to bundle back from school at lunchtime to see if my turn report had turned up. Or if Jerry and others had written to plot and gossip, or to arrange meeting up – and which we still do to this day. Just more quickly, but somehow with more faff. The post was exciting. And of course it’s better now, obviously, but in some ways it’s a little too easy?
I learned to type on a manual typewriter and all my bad habits come from that.
And it’s a right bugger scraping the Tippex off my monitor every night.            

1 comment:

  1. My brother (Alec- the middle one, the one still alive - well barely) bought - well lets assume he bought - one for my elder sister, with the intention she would go to typing classes and get a "Good" job. She went and did the exercises but never really got to grips with it.
    I coveted that machine. To me it was pure magic. An artefact of divine dimensions. And I was prohibited from even touching the case. A case which was never opened because it belonged to my sister and she never used it. It was a status symbol and a means to make me jealous.
    Many years later when we were both grown up, married with children, she condescended to let me borrow it to enter a writing competition. Every time I worked on it she would find an excuse to come round and threaten to take it back because I wasn't treating it properly - no I was using it!
    Finally when I was able I bought a smaller portable one of my own and I have still got it. I type quickly but still have to look at the keys. What I find difficult with the computer laptop is trying to get the carbon paper to stay in.