I recently needed to find my exam certificates. Given the length of time since I got the things, this naturally involved a piece of Indiana Jones-style archaeology. These fragile, ancient documents were eventually discovered at the back of a little-used drawer, next to my cheque book.
Flicking gingerly through the aged papers, I was reminded that I also took a course in typing, a skill which is still proving useful right this very second. For all my breezily self-deprecating quips about my age, computers were available, even back in my student days. However, the certificate for the typing qualification blandly states ‘Machine Used: Typewriter’. A typewriter! If I hadn’t been feeling old before, I certainly did now. I was no longer Indiana Jones. I felt more like the villain who crumbles to dust at the end of The Last Crusade.
Living in the Museum Quarter of Douglas means that just going to the shops has an air of Indy-style adventure about it. Or to be more accurate, indie-style. With so many second hand boutiques and retro palaces in the Heritage Hood, you never know what whimsical arcana will be lurking in the shop windows. It makes me feel like Bagpuss, wondering what item Emily will have left for me to inspect today. I know this analogy doesn’t fit precisely, because Bagpuss just lived in one shop, and didn’t haul his furry bum round all the retail outlets in his town. Nevertheless, he is very much my spirit animal on a number of levels, so bear with me here.
A few days after finding my certificates, I was ambling past one shop and in the window sat a typewriter. Not one of the very old Edwardian ones you sometimes see in hipster venues, for decorative purposes only. This portable model was, I guessed, no older than myself. And like me, seemed to still be mostly in working order.
I was briefly taken with the idea of doing my writing on such a design classic. A typewriter is like a banquet for the senses. The clattering sound of the keys in motion. The chemical scent of the ribbon. The pain of a finger falling between two keys and getting jammed in the levers.
Reality quickly bit. In the decades since I last used a typewriter, I’ve become accustomed to spellchecking, deleting, cutting and pasting, and the ability to instantly transmit what I’ve written. Where would I get the parts to keep my typewriter in working order? A motorist might think a horse-drawn carriage is cute. That doesn’t mean buying one for everyday use would be a good idea.
Mind you, if the typewriter ever does make a return, I’m qualified to use one – and I’ve got the neatly-typed paperwork to prove it.