Wednesday, 26 March 2014


In the back bedroom (or guest room) on the wall is a printer’s case. A friend, who has since sadly died, gave this to D and I many years ago. He was one of those people who had led an interesting and varied life; following an apprenticeship as the Printer's Devil(which, according to his autobiography[!]is an historic term for a printer's apprentice), he went to Australia  on the £10 passage. Here he found work as a journalist and met the Beatles at a party (well, all except Lennon). On his return he worked at the V&A as an attendant, followed by work as a housemaster at a boarding school for children with chronic asthma  - where he ran a printing press in the converted gym.  In later life he bought a van and set up a mobile printing works – designing and setting small letterpress jobs and printing them in the back of his van… but of course this was all before I knew him. He stayed with us on various occasions (often sleeping in his camper van outside!) and during one of his visits produced the wooden case and with it, our names in wood type, as a thank you. It was a lovely gift, but why didn't I discover more… what other wonders did he have squirreled away? Were these oddments of wood type – or part of a full set that he split? Part of me feels guilty that the case and type have become a wall decoration – but it is what he intended.  

1 comment:

  1. This is a lovely post P. Thanks for sharing this story. What an interesting and free-spirited life Derek led, and you are left with what I think is a very fitting tribute to him. The type case is a nice one with brass separators - good quality. I guess that when he gave you the type (from his possessions, rather than buying you a gift) - it was much more as a personal thank you, and a reflection of what you/your acceptance of him (?) meant to him.
    We tend to see these actions and received objects in a different way, than if we had come across them ourselves, in other circumstances.

    Also, type itself is looked at in a different way (more highly prized) these days (to printers), than what it meant some years ago (commonplace), so the meaning and action of what is done with something can be affected, just by time.


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