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Retro QWERTY: Typewriter love

Retro QWERTY: Typewriter love

“Much as I like owning a Rolls-Royce, I could do without it. What I could not do without is a typewriter, a supply of yellow second sheets and the time to put them to good use.” – John O’Hara

I share these same sentiments, although I prefer a car which is less – um – old-fogey like. They remind me of rich old grand-parents who would rather smoke a cigar with the “men” and close an “important deal” than spend some time crawling on the grass with their grand-children. They might be luxurious but they are vulgar too.

Anyway, my point is that I would also probably rather spend money on a gorgeous vintage typewriter than a car at this point in my life. My car drives, it might be almost as old as I am but it has power-steering, aircon and power. I do not need anything else.

My laptop/phone/tablet on the other hand; they give issues. Well, that is a bit unfair. The network providers in South Africa give issues. 99% of the time we do not have internet connection at home and then when we do it is frustratingly slow. Today, I spent the day at home working as I had my wisdom teeth removed yesterday and am swollen, nauseous, in pain and drowsy. To add insult to injury the internet connection only started working properly later in the day. Replying to work emails on a phone with a tiny keyboard has resulted in cramped hands and an annoyed me.

I started thinking back to a bright red typewriter we used to own and which I would always haul out as a little girl and compose prose on. A simpler time.

I always loved writing and would sit at this red typewriter and type my stories (oh how I wish I still had copies of them) for hours at end. First there was the process of rolling the paper carefully into the typewriter and then the clack-clack-clack sound the keys made when typing. The effect was real. At the end of a line you would pull on a lever and smack-slam you would be on the next one.

It was also always important to think before typing as there was no such thing as back-space, or even on some models which did have this key, it was messy. A clean erasure of a mistake is a luxury with which we are far too comfortable these days (not only in typing but in life…). An error would stay or the entire document re-typed. Your vocabulary was also strengthened as a built-in thesaurus was not a right-click away. Spelling needed to be meticulous for the same reason.

The writing process was carefully creative.

I need to experience this fantastic sensory indulgence again; the sound, the feel, the smell and look of the wet ink still on the page – smudges here and there.

The process might not be perfect but is a tangible and physical one. Something that I crave out of typing these days. Touchscreens might be the way of the future but a part of me wants to savour the past. I suppose I am connected to typewriters in a rather romantic way, it is on these vintage machines that my love of writing manifested itself.

I would love to get my hands on a typewriter soon (might start hunting down our old red one; don’t know what has happened to it!) I found some beautiful ones for sale on etsy. My gran would probably not believe what they sell for these days – the prices have sky-rocketed as no factories make them anymore; they are now collectible items and who can argue that they look aesthetically pleasing in any home?

I have put together a “Typewriters” board on my Pinterest profile. Here are some beautiful images which definitely explain my intrigue with these old machines.

As I probably won’t be able to afford the satisfaction of a vintage typewriter just yet, any of these accessories would do too.

Click on images to view larger versions. Hovering over an image reveals caption.

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