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Printer’s penance, that’s what they called it. The guys would tease him of course, being an apprentice and all, it was just human nature as they had all been there.
Fourteen year old Peter’s heart was heavy as he hunched over the hyphens, full stops, colons and letters of the alphabet in the ancient hemlock hellbox.
There was no short cut to sorting them out and type continued to be tossed into the havoc, sometimes accompanied by the partial husk of someone’s lunch which made the casts even more sticky to handle.
His brother’s trousers bagged around his ankles despite his Mam turning the hem up and the odd letter or two would hijack the folds and hitch a lift home. Next day he would hastily put them in the correct place before someone accused him of theft.
He often dreamt of how wonderful it would be if such things were automated.
Then he realised he’d be out of a job and Mam needed his three shillings a week.