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Tom Hanks hails Scottish bookshop owner a ‘hero’

By October 29, 2021Culture, News

An Edinburgh bookshop owner has been hailed a hero by Hollywood actor Tom Hanks for their mutual love of classic typewriters.

Hanks praised Tom Hodges for “keeping typewriters alive”.

Hanks is known to some to be a huge typewriter enthusiast and has been collecting them since he was a teenager.

He describes them as “brilliant combinations of art and engineering,” and now has 120.

In the summer, Hodges typed a letter to the Forrest Gump star and was surprised to receive a reply praising his work as a typewriter mechanic.

The Edinburgh book shop owner invited Hanks to visit his shop, Typewronger Books, during the National Museum of Scotland’s typewriting exhibition.

Mr Hodges, Scotland’s only typewriter mechanic, told BBC Scotland: “The reason this is cool for me is not the same as it is for everyone else.

“He might be a big Hollywood actor but for me it’s all about his love of typewriters. There are a few typewriter geeks, such as Ben Aleshire in New Orleans and Luke Winter who has the Glasgow Story Wagon, but Tom Hanks gets the crown.”

Hodges typed the letter to Hanks from his grandfather’s old Remington Noiseless typewriter, and included an origami dragon he had made.

“I told him how I had run away from Edinburgh to live a Bohemian life in Paris and lived as a Tumbleweed at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop. It is a bookshop in Paris where you can sleep and live there. You turn up and if they have a space you can stay,” said Hodges.

“The tradition there is to be kind to strangers lest they be angels in disguise. I arrived dressed like a mad parrot in all my colours and floor-length coat.

“I think it was a very good disguise as they let me stay. It has lots of nooks and crannies you can sleep in.

“They had old decrepit typewriters and it was there I taught myself to fix them so I could encourage the other Tumbleweeds to write on them.”

Hanks replied on headed notepaper direct from the set of his latest movie- an Elvis biopic directed by Baz Luhrman.

“I had no idea it was from him,” Hodges said. “I get letters from all over the world and then I saw the letterhead and thought ‘interesting’.

“Then inside it said Tom Hodges you are my hero and I flipped to the bottom and there was Tom Hanks’ name.

“It was a proper type-written letter with his mistakes x’d out. Typewriter mechanics hate Tipp-ex because it gets in the mechanics so it was great to see he had x’d out his mistakes instead.”

Hanks hinted in his letter that he may visit Edinburgh one day soon, and thanked Mr Hodges for “battling against the giants to sell the best of books – and keep typewriters alive”.

Mr Hodges said: “I hope he gets to see the [typewriter] exhibition at one point. It would be lovely to meet him. He seems like a really wonderful man. I would want to talk to him about typewriters an awful lot.

“I’m overjoyed with his letter, it’s a marvellous thing.”

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