Friday 25 May 2012


You were warned. I did say I was going to do a course in touch typing and,   surely,  I would want to tell you about it .Well, I have done it. I am not touch typing yet. We were taught the rudiments and it was built in to the day that success would depend on subsequent practice. Now, we all knew, or if we didn't, the Guru did and he would have told you, what the likelihood of my practising was going to be: on a scale of one to ten, about one and a half. The funny thing is, part of me really wants to crack this. It is just fighting with the part of me that is sinisterly in to 'won't, shan't, cant make me'. I really will. I will. One of these boring days I'll click on to 'word processor' and pretend it's a clean sheet of paper waiting for me to fill it with qazwsxrfv etc etc.

And there's the rub. The conflict is actually between the current three score and a lot more than ten and the forty-year-old. The instruction was in modern-speak. No sitting down with a blackboard or a chart with a diagram of the keyboard. No paper: no cover over the keyboard while we felt around underneath it trying to relate the keys to the diagram. You see:  I did start such a course. I do know of which I speak. It was exactly sixty years ago and I had decided attending a Secretarial School for Young Ladies would be more interesting than University. It was'nt. I lasted three days and, thanks to the forebearance of my parents, hurriedly took up a place I had been offered  at University which, by great fortune, was still available to me. (That story is too long. I'll tell you another time.) Anyway, this time the instruction was what I might call narrative. It was narrative accompanied by actions. There was a 'story' illustrated by speech and movement. Each little group of letters was dealt with in this way. I'm sure there are copyright issues so it's not easy to describe in a way that will bring you in to the experience. But picture a group of diverse grownups standing, shouting using their hands in what reminded me of that game where one person mimes the title of a book or a film while the others guess what it is. Only this wasn't mime. It was noisy, wordy and uninhibited.  It was not my most comfortable scenario. Indeed, some of the required activity I proved totally unable to get round at all. I gave myself a very stern talking to.  I tried to switch reason off and join in."Liz," I said, "get on with it. What have you got to lose?" (The fee, for instance.) Nothing worked. I was paralysed. I resorted to writing down the 'story'. (I had to stop myself translating that word to 'content'). The Trainer, bless him, tried to stop me. "The best way to learn is to do, not write". Not for me it's not.

 It is worrying for a Blogger who believes her essential struggle is with the reality of housing a forty-year-old spirit in a very old frame, to find that there is also the problem that she is, in part stuck in the actual era when she was forty - or younger. It just seemed an infantilising and disrespectful way to teach adults. Perhaps, it's not. Perhaps this is good change. Perhaps it is a more effective and impressive - in the indentation sense - method of teaching.  I am not proud of my reaction. I am not proud of being reactionary - although I am quite proud of the pun.  Do your best, though, to picture Liz, in her lighter moments on the course, waving her arms and singing ,in soldierly fashion, in repetition, following the sergeant major leading us:  (I made up the words.They are'nt the ones we actually sang. ) "Do as  I say and we will win" " Put your scepticism in the bin".  I don't think so. But, touch type eventually I will. I will. I wsx. Nos da.

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