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Friday, 19 June 2015

Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?



I went to Saturday morning classes to learn touch typing as a teenager but although I learnt the key placement by that method of putting your hands under a shield, I never really achieved any great speed - thankfully I did not have to type for a living, and now I couldn't survive without Spellcheck or the edit/delete function, and even then a lot of typos slip through. 

One of my grandfathers in NZ took up typing all his letters in his later years, which was great because it meant we could read what he had written, rather than having to puzzle over indecipherable handwriting.
 No photos of Granddad Morrison or any other family member typing however, and sad to say, these two photographs below are the only ones I have in my family collection of anything vaguely resembling a typewriter!  I made this cake for my mother Jean's 64th birthday in 1990 and took it up from Sydney to Wamberal on the New South Wales Central Coast, where she and my father lived. They had bought a house there after retiring from their jobs in Canberra and deciding that after 30 years there they wanted to move somewhere with a milder climate. I don't remember why I made Mum a special cake, perhaps it was just because I could, once she lived closer to us than Canberra, which was a four hour drive away, and I knew the children would enjoy it too. In the second photo which must have been taken by my father, Mum is about to cut us all a slice to have with our cups of tea or cordial. Her real typewriter was a nifty little yellow portable model and maybe one of her grandchildren suggested the idea of a typewriter cake. 

The cake design comes from the Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book, the party cake essential for Australian mothers in the 1980s and 90s. I've referred to it once or twice and have shown a few other creations I made from it over the years,  such as here for example. Here is a scan of the relevant page - very simple, especially as it and all the other cakes in the book just use packet mixes, and hardly very healthy, but they were only for birthdays, after all.  You could always make a proper cake with healthy ingredients if you preferred, but back then we weren't so concerned about all that kind of thing, and somehow the kids still survived!  The book was re-issued as a special vintage edition recently, and surprisingly the typewriter design is still included, despite the fact that today's kids probably have never seen the real thing. I guess it's still there for nostalgic reasons, like the old style telephone, whereas Mickey and Minnie have inexplicably been replaced by Wacky Wabbit and some cat called Ginger Nevil. I'm glad the typewriter is still there, because computer keyboards just don't have the same character. You have probably seen the amusing cartoon doing the rounds that depicts a woman who has just returned to office work after many years and who automatically hits the non-existent carriage return, with the result that the entire computer is cleared off her desk.

 My mother looked pretty good for 64, which is what I'll be next year. Will anyone make me a cake, I wonder, or perhaps sing me the title song of this blog, or the Beatles' version of Happy Birthday?

You can no doubt find more serious blogs about typewriting matters here at Sepia Saturday #284, probably complete with authentic sepia-toned photographs.

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