I have wanted to take a typewriter for a ride for a long time, and finally got around to it. Unfortunately a dog scared the birds away almost as soon as I sat down to type a picture of them, so I’m afraid this trio is all I can offer. However not to worry, I brought my swimming kit, so all is fine and dandy.

The water is 16.6 degrees C, about as warm as it will get this summer. The safer seas and rivers app tells me the water is also clean enough to swim in. I never venture in these days without checking. Southern Water has an abominable reputation for dumping untreated sewage into the sea, and this year was fined millions for its misdemeanours. But today all is looking pretty nice.

On the Thames

My first zip on the cable cars yesterday. I do not have a head for heights so taking photos was a good distraction.
Getting my land legs back along Southbank, we met these guys. It was so good to see poets with typewriters again. I asked for a poem, and received a lovey response.
I love the fact that the word “unbroken” is the only word here with a typo. The poets blog included here at the top of the image 🙂

Elegant ugly

As soon as the non-essential shops were allowed to open again, we went straight out to poke around in the junk shops. Only one thing on my mind of course and here’s what I found…

A mere £220 and you still need to fix it up
Slightly less on the price tag , but still a big fat no thanks
Are you kidding me? Lockdown has been messing with everyone’s minds
Seems like a reliable hulk but too big to carry up the hill
In the same junk shop as the Adler. £22, for an SM 9? that’s more like it. Knocked it down to £20, not noticing the dodgy ancient platen knob fix until I got it home.
I also discovered this little issue, no wonder the carriage was a bit sluggish in the shop. What you can’t see in this picture is the hideous tangle behind the mainspring. Those teeth on the edge of the mainspring drum are really dangerous to fingers. With extreme caution I gave the drawband some slack with one hand and used a pair of tweezers to free it from the jaws of death and reposition back into place.
Which just left one more twist to sort. Fortunately the SM9 has a nifty hook arrangement on the end of the drawband.
These alcohol mini-wipes have been really useful for disinfecting phones and public touch-screen tills and ticket machines. Turns out they’re good for getting rid of old tippex on rubber too.
Say “aaahhhh”
Ok, you’ll do. Pretty cool for an ugly office machine. Owned by one person, a Mr French of Hastings, and purchased for the princely sum of £61.56 inc tax, in August, 1974
I love these original packing details!
Factory export ticket! Tucked in under the plastic form in the case since 1974.
Here’s that awful platen knob fix. Mr French! What were you thinking?! Some kind of epoxy gunk which oozed all over the place. Not sure I want to tackle a remedy for this at the moment. I can live with the wonk for now.


Cover design 1 in progress. Gold foil on maroon book cloth
Cover design 2. Ink on grey book cloth
Cover design 3. Silver foil on midnight blue book cloth
Jacket-slip typed on Smith-Corona Classic 12 6cpi
Pretty satisfied with the way this project has turned out. Now on to the next!

120 lino prints…

being sewn into a first run of ten little books

This is tank-top guy feeling festive
This is Crow, missing her friend Tank-top guy
Sometimes when you miss someone, you just have to caw them up on the phone…
and work out how to spend time together, in a corvid safe way.

Replacing a paper finger on Underwood 5

A little while ago an eagle-eyed fellow typospherian Bill M very generously offered me a replacement paper finger for my 1909 Underwood 5. I was so excited to receive the parcel and get the screw drivers out this weekend. The procedure for replacing the finger is quite straight forward when you know how and have prior warning about the teeny spring and rod in the finger which have to be held carefully in place. I was grateful for the instructions Bill sent along with the part, otherwise I might have spent a while messing about with fiddly bits!

The screw to release the rod for the paper fingers is located behind the nickelled plate on the right side of the carriage. I had to loosen the rusted in place screw first with some penetrating stuff (ok, ok! it was WD 40, but as you can see I protected the rest of the typewriter with rags)
The rod lifted out without a hitch. Bill kindly sent the replacement finger with a bolt holding the spring and rod in place
Sliding the part into place on the rod. (Yes, my fingers are stained with black printing ink 🙂 more on that another time but I can tell you I’m kind of wishing I had a printing press now!)
The rod slides back onto the machine. You can see part of the serial number there which is hidden beneath the nickelled plate.

It’s the little things that make all the difference. The typosphere is a wonderful thing! I’m always grateful to be a part of it.

Printing without a press

This is the first test this evening of a bookplate design. A lino cut of my Underwood 5, and text printed by hand using some type I bought off eBay a few years ago. I made the text block by clamping the letters and spaces together with duck tape. I’m using oil based block printing ink, and rubbing the back of the paper with a bone letter opener. The text block is simply stamped on by hand. I do love making things completely by hand. Don’t let the lack of a printing press stop you from making prints at home.


Yes! It’s a photo of a machine I’m happy to be addicted to. Also, I finally got around to taking some nothing else in the background shots of my Underwood Five.

What a massive hunk of machine with only one purpose. “I’m here to serve your every writing need. I promise not to distract you, or judge you. I promise I never even thought about trying to spy on your friends or track your every step around town. I won’t measure your waking hours or interrupt you when you are eating with friends and family or reading a book. I’m yours, I’m just waiting for you. Whenever you’re ready.”

Imagine what the makers of this machine would make of that imagined typewriter dialogue. They would be shocked, horrified. Amused? Bewildered? What kind of world has this machine travelled to? One in which we do still have a choice. It’s worth clinging onto choices.