CRINGLE: At the forefront of technology

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WE learned in the news last week that what is believed to be the last typewriter built in Britain has come off the production line of the manufacturer Brother in North Wales.

I’m using my Olympia standard typewriter to hammer out this first draft of this week’s column before firing the finished product into cyberspace, optimistically to Bev on the newsdesk at the Examiner.

I can’t write it straight into the computer. It’s a visceral thing with me, you understand.

I lay pretty good claim – my possible challengers are all dead – to being the first journalist in the Isle of Man to use a typewriter.

When the Examiner took me on as a trainee in 1948 I took with me a Remington portable which my proud parents had bought me.

It was the object of some curiosity among the denizens of the newsroom.

Back then all copy was written by hand.

For the first and last time in my life I was at the forefront of technological advance in newspaper production.

Mind you I had to learn how to use my portable and the Examiner sent me to Miss Martin’s School of Shorthand and Typing round the corner in Athol Street to learn these important crafts.

I was 17 and the only male in a class of 30 girls. What they made of me I will never know.

All I could do was wonder fretfully if I was missing golden opportunities for relieving myself of my increasingly vexatious virginity.

As for today, I am far from the only person in the world committed to the typewriter. A kindly reader has sent me a copy of an article in the BBC News Magazine telling me about many of those who are, and it invites readers to write in their typewriter stories for publication.

I suppose I could have sent them this lot. But there is no mention of money. At the Examiner there is often mention of money, usually when they refuse to give me a rise.

Meanwhile the last typewriter built in Britain has been donated to London’s Science Museum. This gave me the idea of donating mine to the Manx Museum when I die.

I rang up the social history curator Matthew Richardson about this. ‘All right,’ he said, with unbecoming cheeriness. ‘We don’t want to be stuck with any old typewriters. But we could take yours because you’re a media celebrity, a national treasure.’

I could hear him snickering to himself as he put the phone down.

I wish people wouldn’t call me a national treasure. I don’t want this kind of thing noised about at my funeral service, otherwise some hopeful halfwit will try to dig me up.

• THE Examiner had a picture of a presentation with a caption saying: ‘Teacher Gerry Reynolds accepts a plague from Royal Navy Lieutenant Andy Tinsley after composing a new motto for HMS Ramsey.’ I hope Gerry caught it all right. This was sent in by Harley Quilliam and also by a reader wishing to be known as Dave the Grave. He lives in the Isle of Man in retirement after a career at Milton Keynes as a funeral director.

• I HAVE been on holiday flying with British Airways and easyJet and on both the safety demonstration on how to use your lifejacket was introduced with the worrying statement: ‘In the event of landing on water . . .’ In the event the pilots in both cases decided not to.

• THIS week’s Manx crossword clue is: ‘Is there when a race finishes (7) – ATTENDS (Daily Mail).

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