Sunday, 15 April 2018

A little nostalgia in a crazy world!

As the politicians seem intent on trying to wrexk the world as we know it, I find myself drawn to items about nostalgia.

In an article about old possessions people are inordinately attached to, Will Self talks about the Olivetti Lettera typewriter that used to belong to his mother. It’s nearly seventy years old and he still uses it. He must be among the few who still use typewriters, even though he admits to never having learnt to touch type. (Same here - in fact my teenage granddaughter is highly amused to see me sending text messages as I hold the iPhone in one hand and use one finger to tap out my message. None of this two-thumb stuff for me!)

I received a portable typewriter for my 21st birthday. I loved it. Along with my portable record player, one of those that closed down into a mini-suitcase, it was one of my most treasured possessions. Both Phil and I used the typewriteri for years and years, probably until we acquired a word processor. This was in our pre-computer days.

Will Self thinks regretfully that his precious Olivetti might not see him through his next book. He will need to find another way of composing.

Apparently he used to have a whole collection of typewriters but now just has two Olivettis, both previously belonging to his mother. One of them was for a while with his brother in the USA and has US keys rather than UK keys. Now, I never knew that the USA used a different keyboard to us. Why would that be? After all, they speak what is basically the same language. I can understand that different languages require different keyboards because of the frequency of letters being used and so but surely, despite spelling differences, American English is not so different from British English in the written form.

One of my most amusing memories is of a rather pompous, big+headed young Frenchman I worked with spotting my typewriter, declaring that he could type and being amazed to find he had typed a load of gobbledegook. A small victory!

There’s a man called Phil Nuytten in Vancouver who is working on a project to establish a colony under the sea. He’s been fascinated by underwater life since he was a small boy. Back in the 1960s Jacques Cousteau organised people to live in underwater habitats. Jacques Cousteau was a wonderful describer of underwater worlds in his television programmes. Apparently there were lots of experimental under-the-sea projects back then. It was generally assumed that it would be an alternative living arrangement but the whole thing sort of fizzled out and attention turned to space. And for a while we imagined we might have colonies living out among the stars as well. That seems to have fizzled too.

But now Mr Nuytten seems determined to resurrect the underwater colony idea. He expects to get lots of volunteers and tells the story of an advertisement he had heard about which was placed in a UK newspaper which read: “Wanted: people to go to Antarctica. Poor pay. No guarantee of success. Doing things no one has done before.” They were inundated with applications and he expects the same to happen with his underwater colonies. And of course, with social media, any advertisement will receive extreme coverage.

Perhaps it will provide a way of escape from the mayhem that is going on in the world today!

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