Petite – the written world at your small fingertips
How many of us began our mechanical word journeys on a Petite typewriter? In the 80s I didn’t have a Petite, but I did inherit my auntie’s Scout typewriter that she used for college in the 60s – a small, compact, pastel blue thing of some elegance and which weighed a ton. I wonder how many times my fingers pushed those creamy white keys, how my ears attuned to the striking of hammers against the ribbon onto the page?
The Scout was dethroned by an early 90s electronic word processor, a Brother, which weighed two tons and took up all the space on my desk. It came with a screen about the size of a letterbox on a front door and could save to floppy disks as well as print. Both the manual and electronic machines served me well as a young writer, popping out page after page of poems and stories (of which a certain few were published. And there is a charm now to that old-school way of submitting typed work by post with an SAE that you had to do back then – but that’s another story for another time). Back to the machines, and I still have pages that were churned out from them which have survived the years and all the moves. It’s funny looking over them again, not just the words I wrote but the typeface, the indents, the smudges and marks. The time-yellowed correction fluid blobs.
When the electronic Brother became redundant, with parts increasingly difficult to get hold of, it was replaced by my first laptop and MS Word package. It’s satisfying seeing words, sentences and paragraphs organise and compose themselves on a computer screen. The tools available make searching and editing simple and fast. With that said, you still can’t beat the elemental feel of a pen in your hand, its shaft working magic from the flicks and swirls of your wrist.
To the left of me right now are hillocks of paper marked by Bics and Papermates and HB pencils – precious notes. To the right is a coffee cup. And in the centre of these is the keyboard, and the screen that I stare into every day, the screen upon which those pen-made notes find their order and place.
I’ll let the artist Stella Marrs have the last word(s) at the end of this post. For now, please enjoy these images of what is possibly the equivalent of the writer’s first car, the Petite typewriter! Plus, a sewing machine, and an activity centre …
It’s all about creation, right?
Thanks for carbon copying with us 🙂