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Wednesday 27 October 2021

The Last Infirmity of My Mundane Mind: Why ozTypewriter Must One Day (Soon) End

"Who knows whether in retirement I shall be tempted to the last infirmity of mundane minds, which is to write a book."

-           Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Baron Fisher of Lambeth (1887-1972), the preposterous Anglican priest who was the 99th Archbishop of Canterbury (1945 to 1961), and who once also said, “the dangers of a world war would be reduced if typewriters are abolished”.

Facebook reminded me this morning that is nine years today since I took early retirement, after 47 years in print newspaper journalism. Offered an opportunity to do so, I eagerly jumped ship, almost six months ahead of the prescribed retirement age of 65. It remains one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made. Ever had one of those nightmares in which you’re buried alive and, desperately scrambling for air, see a fragment of light above you? That was the sense of relief I experienced on October 27, 2012. The next day I posted on this blog about a beautiful ivory and como green Remington Model 2 portable typewriter I’d won on eBay for a ludicrous $22. I was also already making plans to attend Herman Price’s typewriter gathering at the Chestnut Ridge typewriter museum in West Viriginia. I never did get to meet Ken Coghlan at it, but there were hundreds of compensations, not the least of which was visiting Richard Polt in Cincinnati.

Many times in retirement I have been close to what that bonkers bishop Geoffrey Fisher described as “the last infirmity of mundane minds”, which is to write a book. Indeed, in mid-2017 I actually put together something called The Barefoot Billionairess (about the heiress to Henry Benedict’s Remington typewriter fortune) on a Lulu template. But after carefully laying out the text and images, Lulu told me it only accepted the Calibri sans serif font. That threw everything out, so I gave up. In January 2017 I promised on this blog to bring out books on the history of the Imperial typewriter, the typewriter in Australia, and about those real mad men, Yost, Hammond, Crandell, Densmore & Co, and to re-edit and republish The Magnificent 5 (it's been out of print for 10 years now). The next month I met my wife. Enough said. I do have two books more than half written, one of which is a sure-fire bet to knock some socks off. But neither of them have much to do with typewriters.

The main reason these works haven’t been completed is this blog. Since my retirement celebration post on October 28, 2012, my 765th post, I have added 1995 more posts - which must amount to close to two million words (or enough for several books). On Sunday ozTypewriter quietly passed the 4¾ million page views mark. It crawled its way there but has since – for reasons beyond my comprehension - taken off again. Notwithstanding that sudden surge in interest, my blog has definitely entered its final phase. I plan to stop contributing posts to it within the next year. Then, maybe, “the last infirmity of my mundane mind” will take hold and I will get at least one book written and published before I die. Who knows? It may even be about typewriters.
The End


Bill M said...

Mundane Minds... Well, Robert your work is never mundane. You've got one of, if not, the best blogs around. I vote to have your blog made into a book.

I retired 2 years ago, and I find little time to blog.

Ted said...

Well, you can add one voice to the many that would welcome your output, in whatever form it takes (:

David Lawrence said...

I vote we need this staggering, fabulous, polyglot, catholic, broad-ranging, fascinating, enjoyable, informative, brilliant output made to last in perpetuity! Whatever it takes to have it hosted forever more, available free online, we must ensure this! You can count on my donation with much love!

Bill G said...

It is very exciting to think of what else you might do with your time going forward. I have no doubt that the end result(s) will be special. Meanwhile, I remain grateful for the countless hours that you've invested in this blog as you have both educated and inspired so many others in the process — myself included of course.

Richard Amery said...

Hi Robert,

It will be a sad day for the typewriter world when this blog comes to an end. Just in case that day comes and you move on to write that history of the Imperial Typewriter Company, could I place an advance order for a dozen copies! In the mean time.....keep writing. said...


i've enjoyed this blog for so long i can't remember.

once, i had a relatively popular motorcycle blog, reaching 75,000 unique visitors and over 800,000 pageviews a month. i was prolific, it seems. the blog was the first to break dozens of independent custom metric motorcycle makers to its international audience. some of those builders have gone on to enormous success. if anybody knows who falcon motorcycles were (and possibly still are), i'm the only one they (amyrillys & ian) ever gave an interview to, strangely enough. they were very mysterious and got a lot of press but never did an interview; only "this is how we built this or that amazing bike" with gorgeous photography & film in their own press releases. famous people bought 'em but folks misunderstood the pair because of their private nature. exposing them and their philosophy as good, true and beautiful was the crowning achievement for this mad designer/killer biker poet.

you've had these moments. we've read them. you've been the first and only many times. this blog is a moment unlike any other. filled with what can never be repeated.

when i decided to sell it and move on to other things, it wasn't easy. the kind canadian man who bought it edited out all the cursing and boobs and weird & triumphant "F_CK YEAH!" graphics to make it google ad friendly, promptly destroying the viewership which came for the rowdy as well as the new and informative.

the point is, it was hard to see it get soft and fade away but i had to let it go. it wasn't fun any more. it was work.

if this is not fun for you any more, i empathize. do what you love, always and only.

one piece of advice, if you wish: print and save every page. don't count on it always being digitally alive.

thank you for such a run, man. i've learned mucho and had a wonderful time doing it here, with you and everybody.

peace out.


gee said...

What ever you decide to do, I wish you well. Your blog has been insightful, interesting and well worth the effort to read. Thank you for all the words, the insights and knowledge you have shared. Enjoy the now... the future and all that is possible. Gerald Thompson