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Sunday, 2 September 2012

Ahead: A Long Wander in The Eternal Typosphere

My deep gratitude to Winston, Scott, Ken, Richard, Dwayne and Rob for their very kind wishes for my future. Typewriters are bound to play a very large part in it. Maybe I'll even grab this window of opportunity to start The Great Australian Novel, written on an Australian-built Remington portable?
I was especially touched by Richard’s mention of having friends around the world. I take that as meaning people in the Typosphere in particular. In the past week or so, I have felt more and more comfortable escaping back into the world of the Typosphere, sensing it provides me with a sort of cocoon, an entirely safe environment in which one is surrounded by kind, like, sympathetic, souls. Of course, these are people I have never met in person, and yet I feel completely at ease communicating with them. A shared love of typewriters does that. Typewriters and Typospherians have become my security blanket.
I can take out a lovely old Continental portable typewriter, as I did last evening, and type away merrily for hours on end, without a care in the world. I will be doing that a lot more often in the coming weeks and months - except it will be a different typewriter every day.
Wouldn’t it be nice, Winston, to start a typewriter store? One giving assurances about the condition of the machine on offer, and the security of it in transit. One from which the seller doesn’t start the spiel, “Don’t know anything about typewriters ….” I will be selling a lot of typewriters, but am as yet in no rush to do so.
Yes, Scott, this has been a very worrying, depressing period. But now that a decision has been made, I can start to think about getting on with the rest of my life. I don’t reach 65, pension age, for another seven months, but would hope to have better than Mr Micawber’s rate of success before then. As Dwayne suggested, I just have to find a way to land that’s softer than a Royal portable lobbing on to Thomas Fortune Ryan’s Virginia front lawn.
To be perfectly honest, right now I really can’t say what the future holds.
I do know what I’d like it to hold.
But for the time being, I’m still getting used to the idea that in a few weeks’ time, that regular pay won’t be coming into my bank account.
First off, that means typewriter buying will be seriously curtailed.
I’d like to think that, with limited funds, I will still be able to score the odd lucky break – as I did a week or so ago with a gorgeous Como green and cream Remington portable. But somehow I think those days will be few and far between. The buzz is unlikely to sustain me between the occasional turn of such extreme good fortune. The cream of my existing collection will have to suffice.
I am going to let some time go by, shuffle my feet a bit and see what transpires. The last thing I want to do is rush into anything I might regret.
It’s good that I’m not alone in all this. Like so many others, I’m actually better off out of where I work. As some may know, I suffer from bipolar affective disorder, and the prevailing sombre mood, the downcast environment brought on by so much uncertainty, was doing me no good at all. Adding to all that, as Richard mentioned, is the disturbing, frustrating mystery as to why newspapers are being run into the ground the way the are. The future for millions of people who rely upon reading reliable information about the world around them is very bleak indeed.
For the best part of 47 years, I loved my job. I looked forward to going into work, to each day joining a team of fellow professionals, all of us bent on pulling together to produce as good an edition as we could manage. There was always a little office banter to help lighten the load, seldom any real rancour. In the past few months, all that has gone. I no longer enjoy my work. It's time to leave, it's the end of the line ...
I can only take the attitude that those worries and woes are behind me now. With bipolar, I needed regular hours and regular duties in order stay on an even keel as much as I could. But I will also now need to keep myself fully occupied, mentally and physically, which will be the immediate challenge.
While I am contemplating what may lie ahead, I don’t want to be completely idle.
Typewriters will, in the short-term at least, be my saviour. And for much of that, I thank God for the existence of the Typosphere and for Typospherians. 

In the deserts of Sudan and the gardens of Japan
From Milan to Yucatan, ev'ry woman, ev'ry man
In the wilds of Borneo and the vineyards of Bordeaux
Eskimo, Arapaho, move their typebars to and fro
In the dock of Tiger Bay, on the road to Mandalay
From Bombay to Santa Fé, o'er the hills and far away
- Apologies to Ian Dury
PS: As for the longer-term future, there are already a few irons in the fire. My sons assure me they have managed to secure an audition for a part in Betty White’s Off Their Rockers. I hope to play an utterly annoying old fart who "fixes” computers. Is Grumpy Old Men still about, anyone know? And there’s also talk of reprising the role of Basil in a new series, Fawlty eBay. I get to sell some old typewriters and insult potential buyers. Sounds like fun!


Richard P said...

I'm glad to see your wit and humor at work here, Robert, dark humor though it may sometimes be. Please keep up your blog -- your unpaid journalism for the typosphere. And I like this idea of writing a novel! Your head is full of characters and stories, and I expect that there must be 35,847 potential novels there. Your typewriters and the typospherians can't wait for you to start.

Ken Coghlan said...

I, too, am quite thankful for the sympathetic and supportive ear the Typosphere has turned out to be. You're among good people here, Robert. I hope you find the path that suits your wants and needs. Of course, that is not always easy to see at first, but we are all here to lend help in any way we can.
Good luck.

Bill M said...

Robert, with your back ground and fantastic wealth of knowledge I believe that you will not only be able to writer your novel, but you will be able to find work as a guest writer for whatever publications are printed in Australia and with the internet, perhaps internationally.
Then with all of your typewriters and background a typewriter store.
You'll succeed. You will have the time to venture into a new arena that perhaps you always wanted to try and never did because of work constraints.

Mark said...

I agree with Bill, there must be some good freelance work around. You're a recognized name in several circles, so you do have that going for you. I have no doubt things work out fine for you. You have a great talent for writing and for research, and those are rare skills. Thank you for sharing everything with us.

And thanks to everyone for letting me be a part of this community.

Miguel Ángel Chávez Silva said...

I agree with the crowd, Robert, and am really confident that you will find a new project that gives you all the satisfactions you no longer enjoyed from your job.

For starters, how about tapping on that enormous wealth of knowledge and those fantastic research skills to write a book or two on the subject of typewriters, journalism, anecdotes, and such? You could self-publish them in electronic form in Amazon, for example. Also you could get busy with lectures and conferences like the ones you gave during the typewriter exhibition in the museum; you looked like you were in your comfort zone doing that.

And like everyone else said, you're not alone at all, we typospherians are really grateful to you for all the knowledge and the fantastic posts you've given to us.

A.R.M.S. said...

Yours was the first blog, first real typewriter information, I stumbled upon when I first got my Royal. You were my introduction to the international family that is the Typosphere, Robert. Your knowledge and ability of storytelling is unsurpassed, and I am sure you'll do very well in your future ventures.

I'd like to extend an invitation to you to join the International Correspondence Initiative. I believe it's something you would enjoy, that would fill some of the newfound free time, and another way for us Typospherians to support you. Please let me know if you'd like to join, I know everyone currently involved would be thrilled if you were in the project, too.

There could be some very wonderful opportunities waiting on the road ahead, and I hope you will come to face the possibilities with excitement rather than apprehension and fear.

Scott Kernaghan said...

Well Rob, you have my best of wishes still.

I'm currently in the line of fire of Campbell Newman's 20,000. I'm a contract worker, in a big public service, and I too am living on borrowed time in my workspace, just keeping my job with my wits and my good looks.

Unfortunately, I don't have good looks.

That said - As you probably have seen in an email I've send you elsewhere, I'm on my way down to see you - or more accurately your exhibition next week.

I'll catch you soon!

teeritz said...

This is a year of change, Robert. Forget the Mayan prophecies about the end of the world. I'm in the process of changing careers myself. Time to get a real job.
Perhaps now's the time for a big, sprawling coffee table book about typewriters, filled with big colour pictures (donated by those in the typosphere with massive collections)and lots of info. And a serial number database, etc. Just a thought.
Once you see a picture of a typewriter in an ad for HSBC, you know that typewriters have well and truly landed in the zeitgeist.
Best of luck. In the long run, you'll be fine.

notagain said...

As the saying goes, "Not all pain is gain." I sympathize. I echo the others, and would like to see more blogging and the blog contents published in legitimate book form.

Ryan Adney said...

Robert, I am sorry that things are not going great. However, the best thing about life is that it goes on. There will be days ahead. Some will be worse, but some will be much better. Surround yourself with what you love and who you love and all the bad bad days will become bearable.

Winston said...

I have no doubt you could produce a phenomenal book or ten in short order. Journalism experience obviously does wonders for productivity - or perhaps you just have natural talent. The output of this blog is already so voluble and informative that, to be honest, it's hard to believe its author has had 40 hours a week left away from it to pursue a career.

How wonderful that this hobby can be such a refuge. "Friends around the world," indeed - what a remarkable thing. For all my grousing about technology, the internet does have a bright side, doesn't it?

A Fawlty Towers themed typewriter store show might have a small audience, but boy would it be a dedicated one! Have you seen Black Books? There's something remarkably refreshing about the idea of a store where the staff can say what they feel.

Ton S. (I dream lo-tech) said...

Joining the chorus and wishing the best. At times, opportunity shows up just around the bend. Aside from the exciting prospects of writing a novel, I also found out from Richard that you'll be contributing to Etc Journal on a regular basis, that's really good to hear.

rino breebaart said...

An avenue will present itself, I am sure. An oblique line of work or engagement not considered before. My full empathy to you and your colleagues for getting turfed after so many years - and doubly biting for becoming another 'story' in the long, painful dissolution of quality newspaper content & people.

Also, Robert, don't forget your expertise is worth a lot to so many people here online and elsewhere too. You are more than worth your weight in (all your) typewriters.