I am typing this letter on my red Olivetti Valentine typewriter, listening to Nina Simone over Apple Music. I first saw this typewritere model at the MOMA in NYC in 2010 (or was it 2011?). The fire engine red and design captivated me. This typewriter was designed by Olivetti in collaboration with Perry King and entered production in 1969. However, it did not achieve commercial success due to its price and quality. For me, this typewriter is easy to use, is portable and reminds me to be creative. It is not my first typewriter though. My first was a Remington Rand No. 5 which I love. It was a very distinguished art deco era piece and was made in 1939, the year my mom was born. Unfortunately, it rusted quickly in tropical Singapore and particularly since I live near the sea.
Typing on a manual typewriter does wonders for me. It slows me down tremendously and helps me process my thoughts. Unlike typing on a computer keyboard or on the phone, one needs to type “XXXXX” (as I did earlier) over typo errors. Re-typing paragraphs of badly formulated sentences or missing thoughts also cost time, paper and energy.
Recently, I sent two close friends (in London and Paris) letters for Christmas. They were utterly thrilled to receive the letters. I was candid about my life and also threw in some laughs so that the letters are not that serious in tone. I always make sure I handwrite my name at the end so that they know the letter was from me. I learned about that from something I read about letters sent during the first World War. The recipient would know that that the letter’s sender was still alive.
So why “The Running Typist”? The obvious is because I run and I type on manual typewriters. When I was thinking of the nickname, I got the inspiration from a pub I saw in London called “The Thirsty Bear”. It left a deep impression in me as I thought it was funny, appropriate and memorable. Such creative business names are uncommon in Singapore (where I am from and now live in). However, that is changing as we see millennials start new businesses with the most creative names.
If there is any typist (on manual typewriters) out there, please feel free to reach out to me. Or if you are a female and ardent about running, I’ll love to hear from you too.
The Running Typist