August Create: The Night Typists

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Another memorable encounter.

The Night Typists (True Story)

Somewhere between 1978 and the death of the typewriter, I worked the night shift as a typist in the newsroom of the BBC World Service in London.

It was a very formative time. I was there on the night that John Lennon was shot. I knew what was happening the world over. The journalists would receive the news, then dictate their stories to us, the night typists.

Ah yes, the night typists! We were a curious collection of individuals, outsiders who preferred to work undercover of night, for various reasons.

I remember a charismatic Jewish fellow named Tony, who called himself a failed poet. There was Margaret with the cherry red lips, who had been around a bit, and was convinced that I was going to marry her son, Vince. There was Jessie who looked after me. I was thin and confused and young, and she gave me sandwiches.

And then there was the kindly older chap in the suit. We shared a very memorable moment, but I can't even remember his name. We met beside the filing cabinets, or somesuch place. He looked straight into my eyes and said 'Quite extraordinary!'. Nothing more.

I have often thought about him. What did this mean? At the time I must have blushed, although there was nothing predatory or disrespectful about his behaviour.

Of course there was nothing obviously extraordinary about me. I was just a kid, held together by Jessie's sandwiches.

Perhaps he was a psychic. A kindly psychic in a suit. Perhaps for a brief moment he saw the luminous, ordinary extraordinariness of the moment, two night typists just there beside the filing cabinets.
Although I suspect that I reminded him of someone in his life. These days I consider this to be a far more likely explanation.

Perhaps, however, we were all extraordinary, the night typists. Tony, the failed poet, was extraordinary! Jessie and Margaret (and her son Vince) were extraordinary.

Perhaps we are all extraordinary, in our moments of shared creation.

I wish I had found out who he was, my kindly gentleman in a suit, but life moved on. Computers replaced typewriters. We, the night typists, went on our way, out into the ordinary, yet extraordinary, nature of our destinies.

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