Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A typewriter is tougher to shift than a condiment

….. writes Diksha Sahni for the Wall Street Journal, which is a great start to a sentence, although I am not too sure I get the connection between them both!

However, I was saddened to read here ....

But relieved to then read here ....

I learned to touch type many years ago on an old battered black manual typewriter at my local technical college. I took evening classes after I left school – such classes were not known at grammar school, only academic lessons with a bit of PE thrown in for exercise. I cannot remember exactly how the nitty gritty stuff was taught at the tech, but I do remember bashing the keys with fingers that were hidden beneath a wooden affair that covered the keys from cheating eyes. And of course it was necessary to bash the keys with enthusiasm to ensure they descended with enough strength to get the letter to reach the ribbon, let alone print anything on to paper. And then there were those occasions when you caught two keys at once and ended up with a duel of inky metal at the ribbon, not to mention those times when you missed a key altogether and you finger plummeted painfully between two keys.

No doubt, that is why these days I tend to hit the keys from a height and with great gusto rather than glance my fingertips over them, which is – let’s be honest – all you really need to do these days on computer keyboards. It may also explain why I cannot take to laptop keyboards - they are too low down and squishy for comfort. They are only playing at being keyboards.

But the most memorable thing of all? The heavy, satisfying ‘ker-ching’ of the carriage return after the little bell had warned you of nearing the set margin. ‘Ker-ching’, ‘ker’ching’, ‘ker-ching’ - to sit there just pressing the carriage return to hear that satisfying sound was bliss in itself.

However, there is something to be said for the modern ‘delete’ button. My mum used to work in a solicitors’ office and would type out contracts etc on such a machine. There was no allowance for mistakes – make one and she had to start all over again. Eeeks! At least in my job we could use correction fluid or correction tabs. And now I have remembered good old stencils, and the wonderful red correction fluid you could paint on mistakes. I can still recall the smell and sound of the stencil machine, and I am aware now that I am once again flying down memory lane at a tangent … so I shall merely raise my cup of afternoon tea and accompanying biscuit to the good old manual typewriters of old.

1 comment:

Dr Dan Holdsworth said...

You might like to try obtaining an IBM model M keyboard, probably the nicest keyboard on which to type that has ever been made. Alternatively, try a Happy Hacker keyboard; less feel to it, but easier to find.