Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Miscellanea from Cardiff and London

Just a few glimpses of some adventures in the UK ...

London has a growing number of skyscrapers, often with peculiar shapes or features. One of the least popular is the Strata Tower, with three windmills on top—a green gesture which apparently the residents on the top floors resented. The windmills are rarely seen to turn.

Other London skyscrapers include the Shard and the Gherkin.

These modern structures coexist with fragments of old London such as the Leadenhall Market:

On Saturday I took a day trip to Cardiff, two hours from London by train. (I thank La Vie Graphite for inspiring me to visit Wales—as well as Oxford later this month, if all goes well!)

Cardiff has its boring modern parts and its run-down, post-industrial areas, but the High Street is a well-preserved and interesting avenue that's now a pedestrian mall:

Still more attractive are the numerous Victorian shopping arcades that you can access through the High Street.

Welsh is daunting, but at least I figured out that -au is a plural ending:

A Cardiff pub. The local brew is Brains. <Insert zombie joke here.>

Of course, I'm keeping my eyes open for typewriters and their representations. In a Cardiff bookstore I spotted this edition of Cloud Atlas:

And in the Tate Modern museum in London I was surprised by this photo:

Naturally, throughout my time in Britain I've checked out antique shops and markets, dreaming of running into something like a Waverley. I've seen many objects, but few typewriters...

This is quite a wonderful suitcase, including a special little container for ink:

I see a lot more taxidermy here than in the US:

In Cardiff, I did spot a turquoise English-made Smith-Corona—

—and a little girl who was gingerly touching the keys of a Fox. No, not a Grand Rapids-made Fox, but a more recently manufactured W. H. Smith Blue Fox portable. I helped her by fixing the paper and ribbon, and unjamming the keys.

These machines are not a typewriter lovers' dream.

But happily, I won't have to leave the UK empty-handed. My friend Piotr has agreed to sell me this Imperial Good Companion No. 3. It's a model I've been curious about, since I love the No. 5 and also appreciate the No. 7. The 3, 5, and 7 all use a basket-shift design first developed by Torpedo. So I'm very glad to be acquiring this machine — especially because it has a keyboard I've never encountered before: Maltese!


  1. I can't imagine living under those windmills if they are the giant electric generators like I've seen. The constant swish and vibrations would be more than nerve-racking. Thanks for the tour of Cardiff -- interesting looking place.

  2. What's worse than living beside a freeway? Living under a wind generator!

    That is a lovely GC3. I still need to find one to replace the one I sold.

  3. The Strata Tower is notorious. It's not even green. There are all sorts of issues with the building besides those turbines, and they don't eve achieve much when they DO turn. When it was being built I was working at the Energy Saving Trust and we wrote about it on our blog a few times. Shocking.

    In typewriter news, I was really curious about the IGC until I bought one and tried it. And developed an irrational and utter loathing of it. It was in bad condition and not a great typer, but that wasn't what I didn't like about it. It just felt somehow stingy - sharp-edged, utilitarian and joyless... but I shouldn't say this! Happy times with your Good Companion!

    1. Very interesting, thanks.

      Was it a model 3 you tried? There are two quite different designs of Good Companion (both developed originally by Torpedo). The 3, 5, and 7 have basket shift; the others have carriage shift and geared typebars. I prefer the basket-shifted design.

    2. I'd say that's a fair assessment of the original and even numbered GCs. It is why the odds are such a revelation. So smoooth!

  4. Calypso is a branding I have not seen on the English skyriter. Still not worth picking up though! That's a nice IGC, maybe you can take an easier to look at shot of the keyboard? Or post it on typewriter database (if you haven't already, I head there next after checking your blog).