The clouds are pink in the sky and I know what the old wives are thinking: Red in the morning, sailor’s warning. The clouds thicken and become bright red before the light in the room brightens and sharpens, and the clouds turn white. The strips of light angled by the venetian blind illuminate the desk of the typewriter. Another day of school holidays – another day of writing – has begun.
The sounds of morning silence: Birds, cars, a solitary morning express bus always being threatened with cancellation due to lack of patronage. An aeroplane flies overheard, probably heading to Melbourne.
I wind the desk clock which I had accidently left to run down. It starts its tinny ticking again.
I haven’t had breakfast, so that is attended to with the sound of plastic screw-top lids scraping on their threads and spoons ringing along faded Willow Pattern bowls. The television might go on: insipid advertising and things I’ve already seen on Twitter. The television might go off again.
The day starts in longhand, on paper with a fountain pen. Another sound of screw lid on the rim, this time of the Pelikan 4001 glass ink bottle: royal blue.
Quiet morning writer’s sounds. Paper being torn. Sticky tape dispenser dispersing tape – the metallic sound of the break the moment the cutter cuts – to fix the improperly torn pieces of paper. Pencils being sharpened, a scraping noise. The tinkling of paper clips, fingers searching for the right one amongst hundreds. The creak of the chair and the honing of the fountain pen nib across the cheap notepaper torn from a binder exercise book, eight millimetre ruled.
No typewriter music yet.
The clock ticks and the fountain pen clinks as it is laid back on its glass stand at the back of the desk. The clock is left to tick and the cool air is left to burn off as the sun edges up past the new second storey belonging to a neighbour.
When I come back the mail has come, the phone has rung – a proper one with a real, musical bell – and I have returned to make typewriter music.
The typewriter is brought forward from the back of the desk and its mechanical noises begin to sing and dance to a syncopated clock. The typewriter is a Triumph Perfekt, one from my collection of 44. Heavy and tactile, it is the closest, it seems, I’ll ever get to heavy machinery.
Words are punched out, letter by jerky letter. But there is still no typewriter music.
I consult the CD player. Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky is selected and the Deutsche Grammophon CD is inserted. I hit “play” with a strutting index finger and unnecessarily flamboyant wrist action.
Now there is typewriter music. Words punched out in time and orderly. Pages don’t fly out of the typewriter (they never do; theatrical, cinematic nonsense) but they roll through much more easily while Tchaikovsky, from his early cholera-caused grave, conducts the madness. The concerto’s tension builds or the symphony gets louder (Tchaikovsky’s No. 5 is a favourite), and then the typing gets quicker. The risk, as the brass section is brought out of hibernation, is that the purple haze surrounding the prose becomes impenetrably thick. But who cares? Who cares that the tea has gone cold? Who cares that ink has been spilled and the desk drawers are a mess? Who cares that the typewriter could do with a new ribbon and that I should eat lunch? No one. It doesn’t matter because Tchaikovsky is playing and I am writing and the clock is ticking.
No music equates to no magic, no fun, no quiet soft bits and loud, thumping triumphant bits – no dynamics. No music, no art, no literature: no Beat poetry, no Jazz Age, no typewriter music.
This blog post appeared as a part of the February Teens Can Write Too Blog Chain, with the prompt: “How does music relate to your writing?” For more information, visit: http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/february-2015-tcwt-blog-chain and visit the other blogs in the chain: