Monday, November 22, 2010

Ruari McLean's Landlady

Here is a wonderful story by British typographer Ruari McLean from his "typographical autobiography" True to Type (New Castle DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2000)—

When I got back to Bradford [England, after visiting the austere Modernist apartment of typographer Jan Tschichold] from Basel, I found that the room I rented from Mrs. Buchsieb contained too many ornaments. I began counting them, and found that the room itself contained one hundred and thirty-six objets d'art and eighty-nine pictures, prints, calendars, plates, mirrors, and texts on the walls. I decided I could stand it no longer. I placed all the vases in queue on the piano beside the door as a sign for their removal, and put a lot of other stuff out of sight, leaving the mantel shelf quite bare. I stood back to admire the effect, thought enviously of Tschichold's room in Basel, left a box of my own matches looking rather like a night watchman's hut on a slum clearance site, and went out to post a letter and have a drink.

When I returned, the room was exactly as it had been before my ministrations, except that Mrs. Buchsieb was standing in the middle of it looking like a dive-bomber about to strike.