My Father took me to Letchworth Printers when his monthly magazine, “The Linguist” was ‘put to bed’.
They were intriguing and noisy, these marvellous mechanical slaves. They responded to the keystrokes of the relaxed and jovial operators by producing the frantic sounds of a machine on the edge of complete disintegration.
The operators efficiently produced one single flat rectangular shiny leaden block of type, one line at a time. They spellchecked each one. They all had the ability to read mirror writing.
Incorporated on the right side of the clackety contraption was a cauldron of the molten stuff, heated electrically.
I saw heating elements light up the odd, toxic curl of vapour with a red glow.
The pauses between each line of type they produced allowed these chaps to relax and indulge my boyish enthusiasm.
Elsewhere on the shop floor, men let me jump into enormous bins filled with the thin paper strips produced by the powerful, razor sharp guillotines.
The men were expert at making out of the long offcuts that ultra speedy type of paper dart which resembles an arrow with an arrowhead.
The fact that I sport all of the extremities with which I was born is a thorough condemnation of the mountains of Health & Safety regulations which stultify modern industrial processes.
They let me take home samples of the lead type. I used to melt them in a stainless steel soup ladle over the kitchen gas stove. Then I’d fill the stainless steel sink with water, and I’d pour the metal into the water. Crazy shapes. A young boy with alchemical, nay, maniacal stirrings