Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Giong and Bananay

In the Olden Days, when I was seventeen, I learned to touch-type on a ten-day typing course at the Yorkshire Evening Post.

In those days girls often resisted learning to type as they were worried that this very skill would make them end up in a dull typing-pool job somewhere. However, I think I can say that it has been the most useful skill that I have ever learned, apart from my times tables - should you want to know what seven eights is, I can tell you in an instant that's it's fifty-six, because I was taught in my eleven-plus exam year by Mr Storey, and when you were taught by Mr Storey you stayed taught.

I'm not naturally fast at anything much so at the end of the ten days I was not a fast typist. Of course, we were working on those big old heavy machines where you had to slide the slidey kerchingy thingy across at the end of every line.

I wasn't very accurate, either, in those days - - and in those days it mattered because every error was a major occasion requiring the correction fluid known as Tippex, which would get rid of the mistake and leave a tell-tale white mark. But nevertheless, I persisted with it and even typed a few essays for other people at university.

When they invented word processors I was still slooooooooow. And still inaccurate. But now it didn't matter. I would make a mistake and instantly correct it. I went for an interview at one of those temping agencies and to my horror they gave me a typewriter to work on (ah! just now it just took me three attempts to type "typewriter" so clearly I'm still making errors and instantly correcting them - - but now I barely notice).

My typed piece for the temp agency was a total disaster. Inaccurate? It was barely English. They opened their mouths to say "Never darken our doors again" but before they could say it I said "Can I try it on a word processor, please?"

They were astonished that I could now produce a piece of perfect accuracy. "Could you do a spelling test for us, please?" - - Oh yes, please, you bet, bring it on!

I can do spelling. It's the thing I'm best at in the whole world, probably, apart from rearing frog spawn into frogs. I scored - modest cough - the highest score anyone had ever got in their test.

So I was sent out to do general admin-type work, but not to do typing, until the whole world changed into using word-processors.

Now, after fifteen years spent working for the actors' agency and typing every day, I type very fast - - but, as I've just noticed, I still make quite a few errors which I instantly correct.

There are three errors I notice that I make quite often. One is that if I type a capital N, my fingers automatically type the letters PQH after it, because the National Professional Qualification for Headship is something we've worked on a lot.

Another is that I think - or my fingers think - that any word ending in the letter a should end in ay instead. So I'd be eating a bananay on the banks the Panamay canal if I didn't stop myself.

And, finally, and most annoyingly, the word going - which I seem to type a lot - almost always renders itself as giong, which sounds vaguely Chinese.

Most young people now don't seem to bother learning to touch-type - - they just type very fast with three fingers, because they learned to type almost before they learned to write. But I'm glad I can touch-type. I'm always thinking along the lines of "What will happen if - - " and one of my "What will happen if" things is, if I ever go blind, at least I'll still be able to send people emails.

It's just a pity that I won't be able to read their replies.


Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

You're so clever Daphne. Who else could make the business of typing into an entertaining post. Typewriters - oh my lord! Thank heavens that primitive technology is not only giong but gone. Remember those correcting strips you could use even before Tippex was invented? Like a little white ribbon.

7:17 pm  
Anonymous ruth said...

I had to teach myself to touch type in less than 48 hours. I was 18 and had an interview for a job in an estate agents on a Tuesday and quickly heard that they wanted me to go back for a second interview including typing test on the Thursday. I had been typing for years on a small manual typewriter at home but thought I would have to be faster to pass a typing test. I bought a book from WHSmith and worked my way through it from Tuesday evening until Thursday morning.

I got the job and ever since have been able to touch type quickly and usually with considerable accuracy. It was the best thing I ever learnt. Apart perhaps from spelling and grammar taught by the formidable Mrs Loft-Simpson who was probably a bit like your Mr Storey, only with a larger chest.

9:12 pm  
Anonymous ruth said...

And now I am giong to have a bananay.

(and that's hard to type)

9:15 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

The slidey kerchingy thingy is called a carriage. And the rolly thing in it is called a platen.

I learned to type before the correcting strips or the copy machine. Carbon paper was all the rage in those days if multiple copies were needed, but correcting an error was AN ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE, AND YES, I AM SHOUTING because the memory of correcting typing errors while using carbon paper marked me for life.

12:59 pm  

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