Stolen from the Press
Some nights when urgent printing deadlines needed to be met, the machines would burn the midnight oil and keep some of us awake with their ratatatat. It was called Mew Printing Press. And we thought it was a mistaken 'New'. Ignorant as we were of the Greek alphabet.
As kids we often went inside the press to ask for discarded paper and glue to bandage torn kites and make 'wanted posters' of each other. During these trips we'd also survey the unholy mess of letters inside the press. Letters lying in open boxes, each for a different size, different font. The letters were just metal pieces that were fixed in rows to form words and sentences on a page.
Sometimes we stole these letters when no one was looking. This was done just for a lark. Like the shoplifter's thrill.
"I got an L, what did you get?"
"I got a P, and it's bigger than your L."
"Next time we should get whole words."
"Yeah, maybe we can print our own pages."
"But you need a machine for that dumbo…"
"No, but we can trace them on paper… with a pencil… like you do with a coin."
"Hmmm… that's an idea… why didn't you think of it before."
And like that, unthinkingly, we stole words from the press. Without realising how heavy stolen words could get in our pockets. Or how they would sometimes injure our mothers' fingers as they emptied our pockets before the laundry rites.
I don't know about the others but those sharp metallic letters entered my head in ways I cannot explain.
And once inside, they pretty much wreaked havoc, giving shape to everything I felt, thought and… didn't dare do.