We all have our time machines, don’t we?

I came across a quote the other day by the author of one of my favourite Dystopian novels, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. He states that “We all have our time machines, don’t we? Those that take us back are memories…And those that carry us forward, are dreams.”¹

Photo by Allen Anderson

This got me thinking about the way we at Poems by Post travel in time every day while at work. Because whilst dreams and memories each take us forwards and backwards, there is something else that I think works better than any time-travelling DeLorean ever could, and that is art.

From lyrical stories, to paint strokes and guitar chords, each holds vivid expressions of history for us to tap into, or enough creativity that we are able to peer into the decades ahead.

Music

Let’s first look at music. For example, on my walk home from the office I pass three (THREE?!) independent record stores. Now this is already a little surprising considering the prevalence of online music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, but it’s also very surprising considering the fact that the first record player to be sold commercially was back in 1895, before they considerably dropped in use with the introduction of the radio.²

Our record players now, to be fair, are a lot jazzier than our old gramophone friends, but vinyl has clearly made a massive come back. Most popular musicians nowadays still release their new creations on LPs despite the fact we are looking at 100-year-old tech at this point. This has resulted in multiple generations, old and new, using a shared technology (which when you consider that you struggle to get anyone older to use TikTok, and anyone younger to to use MySpace, is pretty cool).

Photo by Joe Vasquez

I look in these record stores and see people of ALL ages, flicking through the stacks of Rock LPs and Jazz albums, and I’m transported. Just like we all are when we are in there, when we pick a new Vinyl, when the spinning needle starts to pour out your favourite lyrics.

So sorry Doc, the flying car is out, a spinning vinyl is all I need to get me where I am going.

Words

Here at Poems by Post we feel like we travel in time everyday when we set to work in front of our 1977 Erika Daro typewriters. As we click away at the keys, as we reload new paper into the carriage, the clacking hammers echo of the past, all the while we write words for the future. Rarely are we able to type something now-a-days without the omnipresent distraction of the Internet. Which means, weirdly, a typewriter is an escape to a “quieter” typing experience, to the bustling 19th century work offices, to meet the women who first entered the workforce as typists³.

Erika in action! | Photo by Nick Ford

The keys on the pink Bluetooth keyboard used to write this blog have the same layout as the ones on a typewriter. We could even choose a typewriter font on our Word Doc if we wanted to. In everything we type we are floating amongst the sea of past and present. (Fun Fact: the keys layout was rumoured to be made with all the letters of ‘typewriter’ on the first row to make it easier for salesmen to demonstrate them!)⁴

Paint

We can’t forget good old-fashioned art. I mean they are called Art MUSEUMS for goodness sake, they let us see into the past! To experience the emotions of someone that lived hundreds of years ago, to learn from someone that lived not only long ago, but maybe even thousands of miles away from where you do too.

But we can look forward too, to buildings in the clouds and flying cars, to impossible staircases, to houses that are alive, to galaxies out of this world and stars way out of sight.

Photo by George Pagan III | Artwork by The Postman

So the next time you’re looking for something to do, why not pick up a paintbrush and travel through time? Travel to the 1950s with a Pop Art portrait of your flatmate. Go back even earlier into the 1900s and make a surrealistic painting of your kitchen featuring melted clocks and all. Or if scientific advancements are your thing why not look ahead and cook yourself up some futurist fun!

If you fancy a little creative package of past and present made just for you, we can provide that in the form of our Typewriter Edition — simply head over to our website and check it out at poemsbypost.org!

1 Wells, H. G. (2017). New Worlds For Old. [Book] A Word to the Wise Publishers.

2 Richard, D. (2021). History of Record Players (A Look At 100 Fascinating Years). [online] Top Record Players. [Accessed: 23/03/22] https://toprecordplayers.com/history-of-record-players/

3 Boyer, Kate, and Kim England. “Gender, Work and Technology in the Information Workplace: From Typewriters to ATMs.” Social & Cultural Geography 9.3 (2008): 241–256. Web.

4 Greenville, A. Semantic Enigmas — Why aren’t the letters on a computer keyboard in alphabetical order? [online] The Guardian. . [Accessed: 28/03/22] https://www.theguardian.com/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-27297,00.html#:~:text=And that was designed to,for typewriter salesmen to demonstrate

Originally published at https://www.poemsbypost.org.

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