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.

Saturday, 19 May 2012


Before I start, I'll explain, as requested by the one who left a comment on "Mistakes", what the Guru did to make paragraphing possible. At the top left hand corner of the new site it says 'compose' and 'html'. Apparently, I had been on 'html'   when I should have been on 'compose'.  It is pointless to ask me to elaborate. I can   understand 'compose' from my old life as a pen and ink writer but I havent the slightest idea what  'html' means and, no, I don't know in what way it is different from 'download', both of which appear when you want to print something off and, of course, I don't know  what the letters actually stand for. Go on. Tell me. The whole thing was a disaster, if you ask me and I am beginning to think it would make more sense to do a computer course than a typing course. Stop: my inner voice is going bananas. "Your life  is hard enough. You can't possibly be serious about flying to Cyberspace. For Goodness sake, you aren't even strong enough to undergo the injections and vaccinations you'd need, never mind learning a whole new language even to buy a bar of chocolate there." Quite right: I'll stick to touch typing, though the Guru, who went to the trouble of looking at the website of the Provider, tells me he doubts I'll  be disciplined enough to do the routine, regular pracitice which, it states quite clearly, is part of the course. Oh Dear: the pros and cons of being understood.

That's  enough explaining .Awkwardness:  I have developed an addiction for a certain kind of Japanese cooking. It is the kind where the food is cooked in front of you. I must distinguish between the large tables where strangers all sit , together, around a table which consists of a major hotplate, Teppanyaki I think it's called, and small tables where each little party has his, ok or hers, own small hotplate. It is the latter which has hooked me. I find myself making excuses to be in the area where one of the two extant in London exists.  There is a big disadvantage. Seating is on benches back to back with the next table. Nothing moves. Once you have clambered in, you are marooned until going home time. This is all  very well if you are 25,  or even 40, and flexible. At three score and a lot more than ten, clambering may well  be one of the skills you've left behind. By now I am warned. I have experience. The first time, needing a comfort stop, I went to get up and out to find I couldn't. My foot was trapped inside a sort of trestle arrangement. There was capacity neither to push the table forward nor to push the bench backwards. My companion was too embarrassed to laugh. I was not. Unfortunately, laughing didn't help.  In the end, I turned sideways, lifted one foot on to the bench and managed to get it, from there, over on to the floor.   Can you  picture it? Let's just say  it was possible only because I was not wearing a skirt. Those of you kind enough to keep up will have gathered that I do rather miss the smooth flow of movement I took totally  for granted in my youth and still, in my inner world, expect, now. A glimpse of this old bag lumbering along, swaying from port to starboard, , comes as such a shock I can't actually connect  that shop-window picture with your actual Liz.  Forget Typing.  Forget Computing  It's a course in  Etiquette and Deportment which I need. Nos da.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mistakes: with paragraphs omitted, perforce

Just to bring you up to date on the situation described in "Bells", the previous post, I still can't make paragraphs, and the tinnitus has become part of my life so I am less aware of it. It's like being in an airconditioned room: after a while, you don't notice the hum. The other point is that I have re-thought the touch-typing thing. I realised that parking fines and fees for the course were totally without connection. It was a sort of punishment for having incurred the fines to make myself pay a similar amount: the kind of inverted logic that has played rather too large a part in my life. The Father of my Children used to say I had a 'rent box' mentality. I think he meant, money I had put aside in one tin couldn't be used to pay a debt due from another. The above logic - if you can call it logic - would have been a related example of the phenomenon. Anyway, I have found a course that, realistically, I can afford and I am really looking forward to having another arrow in my quiver in the fight against the Wizard of Cyberspace and his acolyte, the cursor. ( Picture a paragraph here, please.)

 I experienced a strange happenning after "Bells". A well-meaning friend moved the blogpost to her personal email and edited it. In spite of being one of the people on 'alert- to- a- new-post' list who were warned there was a problem making paragraphs on the newly designed blog site, she told me the post needed paragraphs and broke it up for me, to show me how. As it happens, the breaks she made were more to do with the number of inches and appearance than the sense of what was going on so not at all helpful. There was also a degree of misunderstanding. She assumed my system underlined typos in red. It doesn't, so I have to do some careful proof-reading to deal with mistakes. Clearly, it's not careful enough and she was, as she said, itching to put it right. I felt just as if she had told me my baby's nappy was on upside down and that there was gin in the bottle insead of water. Now, honestly, wouldn't you have felt like that, too? Friendship is about ignoring gin-fed babies - or telling you about it: discuss. As it happens, one of my babies did experience such a mistake. On a boat on a river at a lock, all the adults busy with ropes and engines and what it takes to get a boat through, this two-year-old helped herself to a tall glass of clear fluid standing, momentarily unsupervised - both the glass and the child - on a surface at her eye level. Before you could say "what the H... has she got in her hand?" she had downed the lot: (gin and tonic, of course, with a slice of lemon. What did you imagine?) Dear Reader, she was transformed, there and then, in to a clock-work mouse who did not wind down, I swear, for twenty four hours. Father, brother, baby sister and visiting adult cousin, whose glass it had been, slept the night through. Mother kept vigil while two-year-old buzzed and ricoched around a small river cruiser and finally collapsed in an exhausted heap the next day. No, sit down; it is too late to call Social Services. She is in her forties. None the worse for it unless you want to count rather too great an on-going fondness for the Demon Drink. A word of elucidation for kind readers over the Pond: in UK English, "momentarily" means "for the moment". I understand that in US English, it means "in a moment". When I travelled to the United States with that same child, by then a teen-ager, she was somewhat alarmed to hear the Captain of the flight announce that we would be taking off "momentarily". (See above re paragraph).

 Finally, you should know of one more - were it only one - mistake. My Italian lodger told me he would be going to Italy "next weekend". I forebore to change his bed on the due day, thinking it would be nicer for him to come back to a clean one, forebore to replace the milk for his breakfast cereal and ran out of croissants on the relevant day. I was wrong. "Next weekend" meant the one after the one we were headed for so picture me rushing about looking for a late-opening shop to repair the gaps and provide what was necessary. Maybe I need an editor after all. Nos da
ps The Guru has fixed it!

Monday, 7 May 2012


It seems the tadpoles have spread the word. I now have bells: in my ears, of course. I believe it's actually called tinnitus. And it is not so much bells as sizzles. I have sizzles in my ears. Well, anyway, in one ear. Sometimes it's worse than others. At the moment it is bacon frying. Yesterday evening it was your full barbecue. I have tried discreet plumbing, olive oil and cotton-wool buds. Nothing works. So here I am, 75 going on 40, with many of the age-related disadvantages and few of the young middle-aged advantages. Which reminds me: some barriers are intractable. The other day, the Guru, who now adds running a Jazz Band to his multifarious accomplishments - two Jazz Bands, actually, a big one and a little one - was explaining to me that he had had a "really cool" request for a gig. He was interupted in the telling and, when he got back to me, spoke of something else. "The cool booking?" queried I. "That is age-inappropriate language" quoth he. It was'nt. It was a quote. But, there you are. There are rules about these things and, it seems, 75 must prevail over 40. I think I am allowed 'gig'. Perhaps, if he reads this, he'll be good enough to let me know. I am perfectly prepared to tell him that my musician friends, professional, of all ages, genders and capacities, also refer to 'gigs'; so there. I wonder what the etymology of gigs is. Do, please, tell me. I have several word-smith readers, I know, so I prevail upon you to lighten my darkness in this matter - or any matter, for that matter. As you will have picked up, I really enjoy 'blogging'. The one downside is the number of typos I have to deal with before I can press 'Publish'. There are two categories, at least. One is the simple hitting of the wrong key. The other is the cursor. I don't touch-type. If your eyes are glued to the keyboard, you can't see when the little devil has stepped off the straight and narrow and lodged itself in the preceding sentence or even gone off the screen entirely. Go on: laugh if you like. At my age I have to ask myself if it's a good use of my remaining time to be unpicking misplaced words from the otherwise impeccable tapestry of my thought patterns. There is a solution. I have signed up for a touch-typing course. Several gegabites, or whatever you call them, of information have appeared in my received- mail box. The author makes the course sound more like a day at the Fair than a day of serious learning. Where I pictured a row of desks and blinds at the window, he has described fun and games and not touching a key-board until at least 2pm. Politely, he asks whether stairs would be a problem, so I have to assume his particular catchment is not 18 to 25. Recently, I received two fines for parking in 'Load and Unload' spaces while I did just that so I worked out that, if I could find £130 to pay those fines, I could find nearly £200 to make my blogging life easier.(No euphemism intended). Further, I am in the early stages of writing a book with a friend so envisage even more possibilities for typos. (No, it's not the same as the blog. It is a grown-up treatise on something which affects many of you youngsters out there). There are, however, serious impedimenta to our endeavour. One: she lives in a different country. Two: on the rare occasions when we can work together, she 'writes' straight on to her laptop. I use an A4 'legal' writing pad. I work best with music in the background. She needs absolute silence and would sack the vacuum cleaner,even if deployed by someone else in another room, if I didnt keep an eye on her. I suppose the sizzle in my ear could count as background music at a push, especially if I up-graded it to bells, so, what with one thing and another the typing course couldnt have come at a more propitious time. Prynhawn da.