Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The end of the typewriter

I'm something of a typewriter fan, as you can possibly guess from the covers of my novel, Writing Therapy. So the news that the last typewriter factory has closed its doors for good is sad, if inevitable. I learnt to type on an old Imperial Good Companion Model T (exactly the same as on the paperback cover) and hammered out so many hundreds of thousands of words that the ribbon holder snapped and the thing had to be consigned to the scrap heap. But it didn't matter. Because - by that time - I was getting to grips with my first PC, learning to be lighter on the keyboard and loving the ease with which I could erase errors or cut-and-paste without the need for glue and scissors. In the excitement of the new technology I soon forgot the smell of a brand-new ribbon, the stain of the ink, the rasp of the platten feeding in another sheet of paper; I even lost the hard pads of skin on the ends of my fingers.

But later, I began to miss the sound of the hammers hitting letters into paper and the whole, visceral experience of writing on a typewriter. I regretted not keeping the old 'Good Companion' as a souvenir of all the writing that I did on it. So when I saw one through the window of a charity shop one day, I knew I had to have it. I went back the moment the shop opened and gladly parted with the £2.50 they were asking for a perfect, working replica of that old, well-loved, well-worn machine of mine.

And now, they are to be no more. There are just a few left in stock at the factory in Mumbai and no more rolling off the production line. Which means, of course, that there'll soon be no more spares. So, the words that remain on the replacement will have to be special ones. It'll be a slow farewell to the old Imperial. But it's also goodbye, Remington; and au revoir to Olivetti.

I'll miss them.