Saturday, 17 January 2015

WordPress Daily Prompt: Pens and Pencils

When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?

Shopping list

Not even my doctor writes his prescriptions by hand today. You know that profession where they were famous for having such wonderful handwriting that no-one could read. A sign of clever people deemed to be remembered as genius because their handwriting resembled more the Egyptian hieroglyphics.

I think of poor Charles Dickens, Emily Bronté, Oscar Wilde who struggled with dipping their pens in an inkwell, using blotting paper, writing their hundreds of pages of books and probably having arthritis in their fingers as they grew older. If that was me, my fate would have been sealed from the beginning. Not only can others not read my handwriting, but there are often times when I also have trouble reading it. 

My first attempts at writing were in school at the age of 6 or 7, it was so long ago I do not really remember. We were given pens with nibs, you know that pointy bit at the end that you dipped in the inkwell. Each desk was equipped with two inkwells, one for each of the people sitting there. It was my fate to sit next to a girl who wrote with her lefthand. I was sitting on the left on the desk for two and my inkwell was permanently empty as she dipped her pen in the inkwell to her left, whilst I was dipping my pen in the inkwell on the right. I think my teacher had suspicions that I was addicted to ink and drinking it in between. She even suggested that I should apply for membership to inkerholics anonymous.

Learning to touch type was the solution to all my problems. The typewriter became my third hand. Why bother to write it when no-one could read it. It was the days of writing letters, e-mail was still in only employed by the CIA and KGB and perhaps MI5. One day someone said let us use those machines laying around for the computer and the e-mail was born, thank goodness. Now I was happy. I threw away the pencil sharpener and tipped my ink down the drain. I kept a couple of fountain pens hoping they might one day be a rare object. They are rare objects, but they were not the famous “Mont Blanc” rare valuable objects.

Today I avoid writing by hand if possible, but there are some moments when it has to be done. Above you can see a shopping list mounted on the background of a Russian lady. She was given to me by one of the fellow students in my Russian class. The top two entries are my handwriting and the bottom two Mr. Swiss. Ok, I know his looks far more professional than mine but he is an ex-business man and had training.The list is in German. It is international in our household and safer as it means we both know what it is about if we can read it. He can always read his own handwriting, lucky man.

It was only a few days ago when Mr. Swiss discovered a hand written note laying next to my computer.

“Can I throw this away?”. The Swiss do not like things laying around, they are neat and tidy. My second name could be chaos, so I cannot blame him. How could I leave a piece of paper with a note on it, was this important? I cast a glance at it and told him under no circumstances should he throw it away. It was the key to my cutting tool application in Mac. I found that Mac have a different application code and I was always forgetting it, so I wrote it on a note for me. The problem is now that I put this note in a safe place and cannot remember where.

Of course I am an expert stenographer. I learnt steno in my commercial class at school. It was the type known as Pitmans and I was quite good at it and can still write in steno. Mr. Swiss also learnt steno when he was doing his apprenticeship business stuff, but it was not Pitmans, something called Stolze Schrey which is mainly applied in the German speaking part of Switzerland. Pitmans is lines and dots with a few curves and Solze Schrey to me look as if a spider fell into the ink and took a walk across the page. For this reason we write in our longhand writing on the shopping list, otherwise problems could arise.

I am very happy in the post keyboard era and do not wish to return to the days of ink stains on my sleeves and wading through pencil sharpenings. 

I would now like to express my thanks to the computer geeks of this world that today have succeeded in bringing a new good prompt punctually with no delay which even appears on the grid without problem. Wordy you are forgiven, come back Wordy and wipe your feet as you enter, it has been snowing. I have baked your favourite chocolate cake, the one with the frim fram sauce with the Ausen fay and chafafa on the side.

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  1. I never liked writing very much, although I'm told my handwriting is neat and perfectly legible. I was so glad when keyboards replaced the pen, just like you were. I am not a good typist, it has to be said, I can't type without looking at the keys despite many years of practice. I will be even happier when they perfect the human/computer interface, where you can just think what you want to write and it appears on the screen!! That would be ideal.

    1. You probably are happy with the touch screen. Mr. Swiss now has a new computer, Window 8,1 which has a touch screen but he rarely uses it. I manage ok on the iPad, but I am now extremely happy with my Apple, the best laptop I have ever had.