Tim Key: I have bought a typewriter and it is a thing of beauty and joy


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The Independent Online

I bought a typewriter last week so this week's column will be about that. And, in other news, I'm also writing it on my typewriter – though I'm sure when it comes down to it my editor will insist that I "type it up" as a Word document; we'll exchange two or three emails about this before I will fall on my sword and do as he says and send it to him as an attachment.

That's for later though; right now, I'm smashing it out on my typewriter and it is very loud and the results are a bloody mess because I'm not used to it and I'm not on top of things like capital letters, and I haven't been letting the Tipp-Ex dry enough before smacking my next letter into it. It looks horrible, but it feels great. I have always loved typewriters, so this is a dream come true. I finally own one, and am literally banging out my column on it.

I got this beast from a Quaint Little Shop in east London. There were a few dotted around the emporium, and I welled up looking at them. Of course, at first I wasn't sure if they were decorative. In case you don't know about east London, things like typewriters and old sewing machines are often tactically employed by proprietors as eye candy. They feel like they'll get more out of their patrons if they make them feel nostalgic, if they make them long for simpler times. I once went to a café where there was a mangle dangling from a beam and I think, hand on heart, seeing that swinging gently above me probably did encourage me to order a large slice of carrot cake with my flat white.

But these typewriters were not decorative. They had chunky brown price tags on them and were very much up for grabs. And – after having a quick whack and making sure it was still working – grab one I most certainly did. An Adler. Or, to be more precise, an Adler Gabriele 25. Like Boris Becker, it was made in west Germany and, again like Boris, it was very handsome. I slid it into my hessian bag and handed it to CDG, who carried it for the remainder of our walk. And even as we walked, I felt like I'd dropped back a few decades. I now owned a typewriter. I felt suddenly less complex. I got home, whacked her down on a table, and immediately googled a PDF of an instruction manual and trawled eBay for spare ribbons.

If you're asking whether I am one of those people who thinks old things are better than new things, then the answer is yes. I obviously have new things, too. Stuff like tellies and digital radios and shower gel. But really I'm attracted to old things. If you're ever lucky enough to come to my flat you'll spot my weighing scales. I got them in a junk shop three years ago and they've had a tin of baked beans and a cufflink in them for two. I also have an old phone, a record player and a loom. I do think old things provide comfort. I watched The Spy Who Loved Me this afternoon. I think I'm more into that even though these days we have access to things like Daniel Craig and Skyfall. I LIKE OLD STUFF. I've found the shift button now, and I really hammered that last sentence out in UPPER CASE.

I am in a café writing this, and I'm giving it a good slam. Putting it through its paces. Occasionally people look across at me. They throw me glances. Admiring? They're certainly flicking their eyes at the typewriter and then up at me. They mostly have laptops. They are used to their fingers melting almost into their keys. Their devices are full of chips and silicon and they have the constant temptation to drift on to the internet and get trapped there. I smile back at them, sympathetically.

This is the way forward. It feels like I'm clonking my words straight from my heart into the paper. WHACK! It's joyous. I love my new typewriter.