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Over sea, under wood


Talking of fetishising old objects, it’s a bit of a theme this week. I’ve just sent off next month’s comic for Metro and here’s a sneak peek:

I hope I don’t get fined for not wearing a bicycle helmet in the picture. Oh, and the title of the blog is a reference to a series of books I loved as a child by Susan Cooper. I’ll have to read it again, or try to read it to Otto, even though he just broke my heart by telling me that Michael Ende’s ‘Momo’ was boring and he didn’t want me to finish it.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. 07/03/2012 11:55 pm

    I have many pleasant memories of typing my stories, letters and articles. But I think they have more to do with being 20-something years old than with the machine itself. Re-typing an entire page because of a mistake invariably resulted in one or two new typos.

    And a historical quibble: The @ button on a typewriter never broke because, until computers came along, that was a dingbat we never had much use for. Except for the old people of the day grousing that they used to be able to buy bread @ ten cents. And since they could only send out a couple of copies of their written opinions, well, they pretty much saved complaints for holiday gatherings.

    (Typewriters really were amazing bits of machinery, weren’t they?)

    • Sarah Laing permalink
      08/03/2012 7:15 am

      Yes, I thought it was pretty crazy, a 1920s typewriter having an @ key. Well, there’s a stick for an @ key, but nothing attached to it, which is why Gus keeps telling me it’s broken.

  2. 08/03/2012 5:47 am

    Fantastic story. Sad and wistful. Is the typewriter fixed? Is your son typing on it? You could write an epic, multi-part, typewriter drama, I suspect.

  3. Paula Green permalink
    08/03/2012 7:27 am

    Love this not-story-story of the typewriter. And I too love the Under Sea, Over Stone series. Interestingly I have hidden that title in my poem ‘Where the Mild Things Are’ in our book Macaroni Moon and only two schools have ever got that title. I felt like hugging the girls who got it (yes, both girls but boys could read this too!).

    I love objects as launch pads for poetry too. There is a wonderful book by an Italian author, Sandra Petrignani called Il Catalogo dei Giocattoli (A Catalogue of Toys). It is available in English.

    And I love the James Brown poem about his bicycle (ok I won’t get started on all the object poems I love!).

  4. 08/03/2012 7:29 am

    Before I got married and left University to go to Illinois, I thought I should learn to type…get a a job to support my clever husband and all that. I went to this old lady in Palmerston North. I wish I could remember her name. She rang a secretarial school. She had a room full of typewriters like yours. I found that not only that I couldn’t type to save the family finances but that the keys were so hard to depress that I got finger strain. As it was I did have to type at my job as a dental receptionist and in the Land of Opportunity the typewriters were electric. I would end up with a line of aaaaaa ‘s before I got my finger of the key.

  5. Paula Green permalink
    08/03/2012 7:29 am

    Actually the Catalogue of Toys is short fiction not poetry — not prose poems –fiction!

  6. 08/03/2012 9:26 am

    WHAT he rejected Momo – tell that boy I don’t know him any more – If he rejects Susan Cooper I’m going to dangle him off a tall building until he recants

    • Sarah Laing permalink
      08/03/2012 1:36 pm

      I know! But, to give him his due, it’s a lot about grown-ups and the lead character is a girl. Did you know it was published in 1973? It’s the same age as me! The other thing I noticed was the language was a little convoluted in places – maybe it’s an older read. But I still love it. I’m finishing it by myself.

  7. 08/03/2012 8:05 pm

    So much I can identify with! Your posts are like someone has a little private window into part of my own brain.
    I had been scheming to buy my kids an old typewriter, because I figured it would be fascinating for them to play with (there’s that gentle push into literacy for the youngest – again). But I hadn’t followed up on it because I started to worry about the “collectible” status that typewriters probably have by now – not like when I was a kid and everyone had them at home.
    Objects+their stories rock my world. That’s why I’m a social history curator 🙂 Did you see this article about Oxfam in the UK???!!!
    They are taking the story of the vintage object to new heights, by including its story on the tags of objects – accessible by a scannable code. Whoah.
    And from your last post – the scene with Gus in the kitchen worrying about being late for school is like a cut-and-paste from my eldest son in our kitchen in the mornings. But as for me – hell no, I’m not anxious. I’ll just press “submit” on this comment and then go and worry about the appropriateness of writing such a long comment on the blog of a person I don’t even know who lives on the other side of the world…

  8. 08/03/2012 8:55 pm

    Oh Sarah it’s lovely. What a joy to read your stories and comics. I do feel rather inadequate in a literary sense when I read all of your interesting comments. I don’t have anything particularly clever to say… just that it’s lovely.

  9. William permalink
    08/03/2012 9:33 pm

    William above was actually robyn if you hadn’t already gussed. I used her computer to enter a comment, changed the name to William and it stuck!

    My mother was secretary for the Marsden old girls association and the job came with a huge typewriter that we seemed to keep for ever, as when my mother progressed to president and then past president, the new secretaries already had typewriters. And I used to love playing on the typewriter, bashing the keys and writing nonsense, but filling the page with letters

  10. Phil Stewart permalink
    08/03/2012 11:18 pm

    Sarah, you’re not going to become a typewriter hoarder are you? Remember the lovely old one you curated for me at Words & Pictures to photograph for the brochure you did for us? That was a fine machine.

    • Sarah Laing permalink
      09/03/2012 9:37 am

      I think it’s the same one, Phil – that must mean I bought it 15 years ago!!!

      • Phil permalink
        09/03/2012 4:44 pm

        If I get to be as old as that machine and have no more than a broken “@” key and a worn out ribbon, I’ll be happy. Good to know it’s still part of your family.

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