A few years ago, I decided that I wanted a typewriter. I thought it would be a fun addition to my arsenal of writing tools. So, one weekend my partner and I mapped out a trail of Saturday markets across Sydney. We planned on trawling every market until we found ourselves a typewriter to bring home with us.
We arrived at our first destination, Rozelle markets. An old favourite of ours because they tend to be more on the side of bric-a-brac, second-hand, opportunity shop style markets rather than the artsy I-mass-produce-my-wares-at-home style that tend to draw tourists and be in popular and/or beachy areas. (These markets have their place and delights, of course, but personally I love to rummage second-hand wares).
We made our rounds, distracted by the five dollar DVDs for a moment, a few minutes flicking through CDs and even longer reading cracked book spines. A brief screech of metal hangers on steel bars (but really, the chance that style and size converge to your liking is rare) before a table of odds and ends appears as the last chance for our first stop. We’ve made it right round, behind the main school building.
There, nestled in a blue carrying case, is a typewriter. I can’t believe our luck. I rush over and immediately the stall owner can see the interest on my face and starts telling me that it still works and even comes with all this free paper. It also came with a staff bulletin from Richelieu Valley Regional High School (not regional NSW, mind you, but Quebec, Canada) from 1977. It was a shame to read that Brent Maybury had been suspended until further notice.
Then comes the moment of truth, the question I need to ask, because sometimes stall owners price things well above what a browser might think they’re worth. “How much?” I ask.
“Ten dollars,” he replies. I am so taken aback by how cheap this was compared to what we were expecting to pay that I say, “Ten dollars?!”
“Ok, eight dollars,” he says, “and remember the free paper.” I pull a ten dollar note out of my wallet and insist that he keeps the change. Then I feed some of the free paper into it to test it. It does, indeed, work. I’m so beside myself with how fortuitous we’ve been that it takes a moment to realise that our carefully planned market-hop is no longer necessary and it’s barely past ten o’clock.
That was how the typewriter came into our lives. Not from a car book stall exactly, but close enough. The project I had in mind, and set to as soon as we got home was typing out all of my favourite poems from my notebooks and putting them into collections. (They are somewhat embarrassing, but how I was a proud of them in my early twenties.)
I recently decided that I wanted to rename my blog. I thought ‘Michael, writing…’ was a bit dull and I wanted something whimsical and personal like many of the authors I’m friends with/follow on social media. It took me quite a while to come up with this, but when it hit me I knew it was perfect. Not only because of my delightful, difficult to type with, manual, typewriter, but also because now I spend so much time in my car for work, I’m often stealing little moments here and there to write out a little something. I’ll admit, not on my typewriter, and not in my boot. But, like the woman being condescended to in this amusing video, I, too, like to mix business with pleasure.
So, welcome to my Car Boot Typewriter. Thanks so much for stopping by. Don’t forget the free paper!