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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Too Late, He Cried! A Lament for the Late Remington Riviera Portable Typewriter

Someone out there has taken pity on me. They've reckoned that Richard Polt has been hogging all the mysterious mail from the Typosphere.
My own mystery started the week before last when John Paul Moloney, chief of staff of The Canberra Times, contacted me through Facebook: "We still get occasional mail for you, including a pretty cool postcard this week. Can you flick me your postal address and we'll send it on."
I got around to answering JP's message earlier this week and today the postcard arrived.
The mysterious "someone" - and I might be thick but I have absolutely no idea who it might be (it's postmarked Hobart) - has gone to a lot of trouble (except they apparently don't know that I have been gone from The Canberra Times for 22 months now). The postcard is elaborately and carefully designed (in the colours of the Remington Riviera portable typewriter), artistic, almost poetic, possibly even prophetic - and spookily insightful.
The card reads: "Hi Rob. Although I've been long awestruck by your typewriterly wisdom, I'd ask that you reconsider the Remington Riviera. That maverick Carl Sundberg designed the Riviera not for 20th or 21st centuries but for the 22nd. Come the year 2101 the Riviera's 'flaws' will start making sense."
Had I replied to JP last week, I might still have my Riviera. Armed with this postcard's prophecy, I might have hung on to it, with a renewed appreciation for the thing, given this long-term forecast for its future.
But no.
On Friday, the Riviera was one of 43 portable typewriters to leave this house, never to return.
The lady who took it asked, "Are you sure you want to let this go?"
"Out damned Riviera," I declared. "Never let it brighten my door again."
I hadn't missed it at all. Until this postcard arrived today. And then only for a second or two.
After the 43 portables left here last Friday, I did a quick "inventory" and worked out that I wanted to hold on to 80 typewriters and let the remaining 290 go.
There will be a lot more empty spots on the shelves in the coming weeks and months. The Riviera, I'm afraid, was just the beginning.


Richard P said...

How charming!

Jono Lineen said...

Hi Robert,

sorry to communicate in this way but couldn't find an email for you and I've got a tyepwriter question.

My name is Jono Lineen, I'm a curator at the National Museum here in Canberra. We are putting together an exhibition on WW1 and one of the stories we're working on is around Phillip Schuler, the Age's WW1 correspondent. Do you know what kind of typewriter Schuler would have possibly used either in the field or in Melbourne with the Age?
Thanks - Jono