26/03/2020

PARISH MAGAZINES

A second offering this week, but rather than a story, this is a personal memory. I'm probably not the only one taking refuge in nostalgia at the moment.
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My father was a Church of England priest, firstly in Tranmere, Birkenhead, then in Rugby, Warwickshire and, during my teenage years, in Hove, before he moved to his final parish in Horsted Keynes, Sussex.
The clack of Pa's typewriter from his study was a constant sound during my childhood, especially towards the end of the month when he composed the Parish Magazine.  
In the corner of Pa's study, precariously balanced on a small table, sat the Gestetner - a huge lump of machinery built round a drum with which Pa printed everything needed in the parish. 
To produce each page of the magazine he would wind into his typewriter a stencil comprised of, I think, three foolscap sheets (that's slightly bigger than A4 in modern parlance) onto which he typed at considerable speed, having learned that skill in the seminary. Each strike of the key produced a corresponding letter-shaped hole, and if he made a mistake the hole had to be mended and allowed to dry before he could retype over it.
The whole thing was then threaded onto the Gestetner roller, the reservoir charged with ink and the tray with paper, then a handle turned to print off copies. If I was lucky he'd let me do it - the whirr-kerplunk sound of each revolution is fixed in my memory.
It all makes the little Cannon printer that sits on my sideboard seem not only effortless but vaguely boring!

PS - apologies for going WAY over the word limit too!

10 comments:

  1. Dear Liz,

    What a sweet memory. About that word limit...;)

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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    1. First time I've broken the rules, Rochelle, and I needed all those words to describe the machine! Will you let me off with a warning?

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  2. It is hard to imagine using a machine like that and get any writing done.

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    1. Life was quieter then - a gentler pace!

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  3. Loved your memories. Put me in mind of the mimeograph, and stencils, and correction tape, and typewriter erasers that always seemed to either go all dirty or create holes, and having to retype the whole page.

    I love my computers and my printers. They're already obsolete, actually, but they work.

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    Replies
    1. Having to re-type a page taught us to be extra careful. Remember those time patches we stuck on before Tippex?

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  4. Words schmords! That was delightful to read!

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  5. I think I still remember those stensil machines in my father's office... I got an old spirit duplicator that I got as a gift and played with. I actually wrote a small "newspaper" with that one together with friends... lots of fun.

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    Replies
    1. That was the start of your writing career, Bjorn!

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