The grandkids are here for the holidays and Wendy at Red Books lent them an old portable typewriter in working order, ribbon and all.

Immediately the ancient sound filled the house, as the digital world, with which they can often feel obsessed with, and addicted to, disappeared. Here was something simple. You press a key, an action occurs involving a key pressing an inked ribbon against paper and making a visible letter which you can both see and touch. There are no screens and Google is not involved. Nor is your work stored on some server in Arizona.

Lily began writing a story about a girl who sees a ghost in an old house. Tap, tap, first page done, onto the second. That night she read the story she’d started and I could comment and discussion begin as to why a ghost hangs around – the life disturbance that is involved. A bit of an argument, the boy listening intently. She stuck to her guns, so did I. Nanna commented that this is a part of the writing process and I bring in the concept of the reality check. More tap, tapping then to bed. She wants to sleep on a sofa – her brother sleeps on the other one. Sleeping on your own can feel creepy sometimes, she says. A sort of whareiti has been created. The typewriter stays on the floor.

In the morning they’re back on the typewriter, the physical act of typing somehow very satisfying.  The boy is often aggressive first thing in the morning so we get out the boxing gloves. To have his aggression matched leaves him with a puzzled look. The tap tapping continues. I explain carbon copies and the gestetner machine. I’ve never seen her this involved and I begin to wonder, Have we been totally sold down the drain by Google, facebook, zoom etc.?