Typewriters and secretaries

Sunday 24 May 2015, 12.01am HKT

M E N T A L   I M P R E S S I O N S   R E V I V E D

SOMEONE once told me:—

“When you’re in anger, you should sit down and start writing something. That usually calms a person down.”


I don’t think so.

Read the rest of this entry »

Reminiscences: Week 32

Sunday 12 August 2012, 12.01am HKT

Updated 04 JUN 2013 (name redaction upon request)

MENTAL IMPRESSIONS retained and revived during 05–12 August 2012.

* * *


SOMEONE once told me:—

“When you’re in anger, you should sit down and start writing something. That usually calms a person down.”


Are you deliberately stupid, or were you actually born this dumb?

The last time I checked, anybody who can sit down and start writing usually isn’t farkin’ angry anymore or enough.

Have you ever tried getting an real, live, sweating, angry person to sit down and calm down? You haven’t, have you, smartypants? That’s why policemen in some countries are given firearms to give the ole’ two-in-stomach-one-in-head.

Some people really do deserve to get an extra round in the gonads.

This, my friends, probably does a better job calming someone down:

Hamsters are not rats
“If you want gratitude, get a hamster,” so says the rat.



La macchina da scrivere Olivetti «Lettera 32» con custodia
(The Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter with slipcase)

WHILST on the subject of writing, I was (and still am) terribly fond of this manual typewriter. It was very popular with journalists and students worldwide in the 1960s and ’70s. Use one and you’ll never want to use anything else (computers excepted).

It’s also the only model of typewriter that North Korea bans from entering into that feudal kingdom. (North Korea has a longer hereditary rule than the United Kingdom, in fact.)

First steps. It’s not Lettera Thirty-two. You say LET-t’rra Trentadue (TREN-tah-DOO-weh). So now you know the correct name.

Dad gave me his Trentadue when I was around nine. He had bought himself a brand-new Trentadue because it’s more seemly for business appearances. Can’t argue with that.

But what’s a nine year old supposed to do with a portable typewriter, I hear you ask?

Nothing. Just clack away for fun.

Dad’s idea was to get me used to the physical presence of having my own typewriter, so that hopefully I’d be comfortable enough one day to learn touch-typing. Dad was a one-finger typist (with occasional bursts of double-finger action), so I can relate to that.

I can’t remember exactly now, but Dad probably said something like it’s sometimes just a pointless waste of time to write longhand, so just do it on the typewriter, mistakes and all, mark up, and be done with it. It’s a great deal easier to type manually on index cards than to fiddle around with computer printers.

Okay, I think Dad was ultimately right. I took a one-year Pitmans Typewriting course around 13 or 14 years old, and then a full one-year Pitmans Secretarial course around 16. I wasn’t the only guy there — though the chicks did outnumber the studs 8 to 1. Can’t complain.

Truth be told, I learnt better spelling, writing, penmanship, English, French and probably better chat-up lines with the birds from those Pitman classes than all of my years in normal school classes — or with the lads.

The secretarial teacher (Sue Rodwell) was hot.

Classmate Keren (“yes, that’s the correct spelling!”) was hot.

Wendy Marshall (“effs like a tiger”, so Paul Baker said) was hot.

That left “MS,” originally from Iran, two notches down the hawtness scale, but she was hot enough, boyo. Srsly.

Plus, in secretarial classes, it’s unnecessary to put on ‘academic’ or disciplined airs. We could nibble on snacks, bring in drinks, gossip and do other stuff.

“We’re training out secretaries and typist-clerks, not bloody scholars or nuns. We’re supposed to take dictation with skirt up, wiggle our tits now and then, and then go home for the day. That could be a problem for you though, Robert.”

Today, I can touch-type at 70 wpm — and burst of 85 wpm when I’m paid. I’m sorry to say I’m not built for skirts or T-wiggles. My fault, I know, but I can’t help it.

Incidentally, the Chinese name for Olivetti is 好利獲得 (Mandarin: Hào Lì Huò Dé / Cantonese: Hoe Lee Wok [or Waai] Dak —literally, ‘to obtain good fortune/benefits’). The sound of that name coincided more closely with 偶利吉帝 (orr ley gut daie) — an older-fashioned, highly idiomatic Cantonese phrase that defies translation but kind of means pwned, self-pwnage, a lemon, a drip, orz , twerp and derp all rolled into one. So during most of the 1950s to the 70s, Olivetti was nicknamed that way. Actually, Olivetti did very well business-wise with Cantonese-speaking people because of that nickname.

My Trentadue has long gone (stolen).

Right now, the only portable manual typewriter I own is an Underwood 250 made in former Czechoslovakia.



‘Best friends and worst enemies’

TALKING of chicks, does anyone remember these two comic-book chicks?

Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge, both girls of Archie Andrews. I remember them from the 1970s.



DJIBOUTI on the Horn of Africa was a long time ago.

I can’t remember how or why we got there, but we arrived and left the same day. At the time, I was told the place was called Le Territoire Français des Afars et des Issas (the French Territory of the Afars and Issas), which I thought was a mouthful.

I have no memory of the place other than its name.

The Lonely Planet book “Africa on a Shoestring” (2004) described Djibouti as “a French Hong Kong in the Red Sea” on account of the buildings there — which must have been one helluva typographical mistake.



Yeah, you wouldn’t have thought so, but American soulfood was kinda ‘hip’ in Hong Kong at one time from — oh — 1970 to Bruce Lee’s death in 1973, or thereabouts.

There were about a dozen of these eateries that served genuine-looking and -tasting favourites of the South. They weren’t upscale, experimental or ‘nouveau soul’ — as these restaurants tend to be nowadays even in the States.

One of the more upscale ones opened with some fanfare, with a TV photo op of the American basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

After the death of Bruce Lee, soulfood quickly started disappearing from the Hong Kong dining scene.

It was gone by the time the Vietnam War ended and no more American servicemen passed through the place.

Today, ‘soulfood’ in Hong Kong is a completely different kettle of fish. The faggots and faggotesses (usually overseas-raised locals) who talk about it clearly never seen soul bloody food even in pictures, much less on a dish in front of them.

Magnolia (www.magnolia.hk) is now the only place in Hong Kong serving New Orleans-style Cajun and Creole cuisine. It is a ‘private dining’ establishment by pre-booking only.

By my own reckoning, the only dishes that come reasonably close to the soulfood of the 1970s are those cooked in Filipino-run foodstalls in World-Wide House in Central district.



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012. (B12467)

Updated 25 May 2013 (typo fixes)
Updated 04 June 2013 (name redaction)

Images: Dickhead tee via vis.ualize | Hamster via c4c | Olivetti Lettera 32 via iNetGiant | Olivetti advertisement in author’s collection | Secretary taking dictation via AllPosters.com | Betty and Veronica via apina | Djibouti via Wikipedia | Soulfood via LTH Forum | Soulfood stuffed peppers via LTH Forum.

Vice, advice and assorted mice with a price

Wednesday 14 March 2012, 2.58pm HKT

10.57pm local time / 13°C (55°F) rainy and cold that was the day before

10.18pm local time / 15°C (59°F) drizzly that woz yestahday

1.12pm local time / 17°C (62°F) f@#king ray of sunshine coming through

YOU’VE GOT THE MEMO about my furloughing this blog already.

So some people at lunch with me today yesterday Monday got to hear my side of the story and why I got so blazingly livid recently.

It’s generally easier to explain things out face to face about all the crap that has turned me into a High-Velocity Ballistic Rabbit.

Naturally, not all of the reasons for my ballisticality are related to the blog — but the blog crap “tipped it” for me, as one of the lunchmates put it rather well.

What you need to know is this: I’m not entirely unpersuadable. Frankly, judging from the words I got on this blog and from people in real life, it might actually be better for me not to furlough the blog.

My aching chest and still-wet cowboy boots would disagree. Then again, I am (semi-)famous for my horrible habit of not budging from a decision made in anger (even if it’s a bad decision). Not changing my mind — THWACK!

(Thumping on my desk right now, kicking the proverbial invisible cat, and chucking the proverbial invisible brick at the TV set.)

So I’ll be going ahead with the furlough regardless, just to prove a point. It’ll be temporary (if I’m going to be in a good mood) or something else (if I’m not).


Lunchtime O’Argle-Bargle

Anyway, my lunchmates yesterday on Monday might have made some good points, I think, but I’m not in a proper frame of mind to listen properly.

Judge for yourself for me (names are just placeholder names):—

Anne: “[…] I suppose [deactivating and reactivating the blog] could be a bit of a chore. How many articles have you done so far? Nine hundred eleven?! How long did that take you? Erm, maybe —”

It took me since August 2008 on WordPress.

Bob: “— maybe you should tell these people to just [STFU]. It’s not like you’ve ever done anything to them […]. You’re pissed off, you’re tired, your pelvis is giving you pain again — this is not the time to make big decisions.”

Ya think? Bob said those 911 posts are represent an investment in time and effort, and shouldn’t be scrubbed just because a bunch of people managed to anger me (online and in real life).

Charlie (a lawyer): “I mean, Rob, I know you’d prefer to do something else more constructive, given the choice. But how about doing something less constructive for a change, and really step on them later?”

Anne: “Actually, he might as well just — what was the word you used? — furlough it for the time being, instead of accidentally putting out something that could get you sued or something.”

Me: “Or be mysteriously silenced because [my] knowing some sensitive and illegal practices of these bankers, lawyers, accountants and officials from work.”

Anne: “You see! This’s exactly what I mean! You’re gonna end up in a war with them precisely because you’re gonna be f*ck-it-all angry enough to shoot your mouth off. Rob, the way you write, no one could tell whether you’re actually angry or not.”

I’m crazy — not that far-out crazy.

Charlie: “Plus he’s not afraid of anything when he’s mad, which doesn’t f@#king help sometimes.”

Anne: “Just ignore these peep’l. Ye’aaah — those blog peep’l and the otherrrsss. They’re just jealous. You’ve been living in Hong Kong a bit too long for your own good. You’re starting to take on their bad habits.”

Charlie: “You shut down — hey, they win, you lose. That’s what they’re hoping for. You know this. Stay on it just to get in their face. Be a goddamn obstruction. The blog, just publish their names and details — I don’t know — pictures, whatever. Get them to sue you even. Sue them back. Just tie up their resources forever with one lawsuit after another.”

Yeah, riiiight, Charlie, like I’m loaded like you for a string of lawsuits. As if I don’t have other things to do.

Bob: “You don’t have to that [furlough the blog] because those people have been giving you a hard time. What? Your blog, it’s not a major part of your life, right? […] Tell me you’re not one of those people […] who can’t get laid and have to do it online with one hand on the keyboard. Shit.”

Shit. That puts it rather well, actually.

(No, I’m not a single-hand keyboarder, thank you very much.)

Bob: “Like I said, just lay off it for a while […]”

Charlie: “Actually, there could be a case for just shooting your mouth off, in fact. I suppose — and I’m only imagining this, by the way — it could be argued as [prima facie] evidence that their conduct have led to your angry state of mind.”

Thanks a bunch. I don’t want to be prima facie’d as going out of my mind. Defence by reason of insanity usually doesn’t compare too favourably with being executed by firing squad, very slowly shot by shot from the kneecaps up, from dawn to midday.

Bob: “This guy wants revenge — don’t you, Rob? We can practically taste it in the air from here. He damn quiet now because he’s bouncing ideas off us.”

Charlie: “Why don’t you keep a running count on them? They seem to be doing that on you.”

But. I. Don’t. Want. To. Keep. Feeding. This. Goddamn. Anger. With. A. Running. Scoreboard. Got that?

Anne: “You know what I think. Rob’s got all these rules for the rest of us, but he buggers them whenever it suits him. You need to follow your own advice.”

O rly, Anne? You calling me a hypocrite now?

Anne (looking at me): “No, actually, you’re pretty good following your own rules. Just that, you know, you break them pretty quickly too.”

No, not really, Anne. Not really.


Perhaps I have been vague…

Accidentally ran into somebody I know (geddit?) who told me something.

The words were originally Chinese, but you gotta read it in an East End London Cockney accent for them to gel.

“Dun wanna know noff’ing ’bout your stuff. This blog ff’ing is for you educated types, innit?

“Why dontcha just do naice pictures from everywheah — no words — while you ff’ink about wotcha wannna do next? See ’ow long ff’ey could put up wiv it, roight? They’ll ff’ink they’ve shut you up good ’n proper.

“But they’ll be coming back, justa see whatcha up to — just to find out if yah evah back on yer game, wroitin’-like.

“Do the same ff’ing for them otha peepoe. Dun go blowin’ off on ’em, know wot I mean? Do it all sportsman-like, y’know.

“So quietly, you let ’em ’ave it in the goolies. They’ll know it’s you — but they can’t prove it — ff’ey got noff’ing on yah — but they’ll know ff’at you could ’it ’em again ’arder next time around, couldntcha? Then smack’em again even before the next time needs comin’ around.

“D’you know, do you know, I ffink you’re too polite — domesticated-like. Rough ’n tumble is wot these smarmy little pricks can’t ’andle.”

Determination. Passion. Insanity. Ballet.

Who sez them Chinese can’t speak Cockney?


Enough of this claptrap

I’m not going to hear any more of this claptrap from friends and foes alike about not putting the blog on leave of absence.

They got good points. But my cowboy boots are still sopping wet.

It all just sounds too much hard work.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2012.

Images: Comeback via c4c | Conversation via Spoonfed | Conversation lasagne via Some Worthwhile Quotes | “Fak Awf” T-shirt via Zazzle.

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