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One day I will drive out of this Welsh valley where I live in a don’t-have-it-yet campervan. With me will be two cats and a don’t-have-it-yet dog. We will live like gypsies in rural wildernesses, some of which will be  without the benefit of electricity.

The big-ticket items are still a dream away, but in the meanwhile I do have the cats and I do have the Victorian oil lamp. And so when I saw a typewriter in my local charity shop—a piece of pure manual machinery operating solely on finger-power—I just had to have it.

There were other reasons I had to have it. It returned memories of my sixteen-year-old self, hunched over an old Olympia, bashing away with two fingers all summer long, producing a truly appalling romance novel.(Bash is the operative word. I’d forgotten how hard you have to hammer at the keys on a manual typewriter.)

In the romance in question, the hero had blonde hair and green eyes, a bit like the boy I had a crush on at school.  It all worked out fine in the end, in fiction if not in real life, and they went on to live happily ever after. When I’d finished, I lovingly wrapped it in brown paper and string (as one did in those days) and sent it off to Messrs. Mills and Boon Ltd in London. They returned it with speed and efficiency. My writing career was not off to a good start.

Then, as an eighteen-year-old cadet reporter on a daily newspaper, I graduated from two fingers to ten. We were taught touch-typing in the afternoons by a martinet who put tape over the keys to stop us cheating. With the location of those keys now wired forever somewhere between brain and fingertips, it won’t matter if the Victorian oil lamp doesn’t throw out much light when I’m in that rural wilderness.

But the third reason I had to have the typewriter is because I think it symbolizes something important, something lost. When the word processor and the personal computer came on the scene, we lost the ability to think through entire sentences, entire paragraphs even, before starting them. Producing the written word required much greater care back then. And so, while I wait for my gypsy dream to become a reality, this machine will serve to remind me of the importance of that care, it will function as a caution against turning out work that is rushed and careless, just because the means exist to do so