There's something captivating about the written word. I've always loved letters on a page ever since I was a blot of ink on my birth certificate.
The first ink-based toy I had was a John Bull printing set, where individual rubber letters could be fixed to a plastic stamper and away you went. I printed my name in all my books, which I'm sure was universal. My Missus did it too over on the continent. Did you?
I think I also had a tin typewriter toy by Merit but this could just be wishful thinking now I'm a vintage toy fan. I know it was a beautiful and colourful tin machine.
I advanced onto Calligraphy one Christmas, when I got a boxed set of pens, nibs and inks especially for the job. They came with a booklet of calligraphy styles and some thick paper. I would conjure flourishes of Indian ink for hours on that parchment. As a young teenager I would later use these skills to create a huge scroll on which I wrote thousands of Japanese words detailing different moves in a Samurai sword 'kata'. It was the closest I ever came to becoming a Zen Monk!
The next stage of my inkmanship was a proper typewriter. No Barbie pink zinger for me but a proper Petit Typewriter for young boys, I loved that thing and would construct such letters of sheer beauty that Romeo himself would have sought me out. My parents had also invested in addressed notepaper, as was the fashion in the late Sixties, so raiding the family stationary I would set to and type sheafs of letters to friends, family and mail order companies. The name was Bond. Basildon Bond.
The final stage of the printed word came when I got an adult typewriter in a mock leather case. It was my Dad's, which he gave me. I may still have it in the attic. I hope I do. I typed till the ribbon groaned: letters, a Tolkeinesque novel called A Song for Small Wyverns, short stories, a study of metal swords [weapons] from across the World and hundreds of poems.
Only the method of power would change as I progressed onto an electric typewriter a few years later. It had an automatic snowpake facility, which used to mesmerise me as it re-traced my steps deleting letters as it went as if I'd never written them. I could have watched that typewriter piston its way across paper all day long.
At some point in the Nineteen Eighties the age of typewriters began to fade and before I knew it personal computers were everywhere and floppy discs were the new conveyor of the written word. Endless slabs of hole-punched paper were fed into these algorithmic beasts from boxes on the floor. It was always green and white and jerked upwards onto the waiting teeth of the machine's hungry ratchets.
To the scratchy sound of skstee skstee skstee the wide paper twitched over the roller, headed down and fell into another box like a pack of cards. I have no idea what all this stuff was that was being printed but it reminded me of a seismograph, as if they were measuring the death of the typewriter, the dawn of the hard drive and the end of life as we knew it.
Did you love to print and type as kids?