Typing School

Spring 2011 #4

I didn’t write last week, which troubled me greatly. 

I type an awful lot these days. Every conversation is typed (and how unfair is it that non-vocal people have to spell correctly when they ‘talk’?). Emails, essays, business, friendship; everything comes back to typing.  And happily I’m a pretty fair typist.  Straight from the HSC exams I enrolled in Typing School, graduating before Christmas ’79 with a typing speed around thirty words a minute.  Those were the days when an electric typewriter (gasp!) was a scarce and very new invention; and Daisy Wheels were years away.  Perched high above Circular Quay I was the only male in a room full of skirts; eager secretarial students as far as the eye could see.  But I had one thing only on my mind (the proof: I married my first and only girlfriend) … I was there to type!  On day two my typing teacher flourished a timber box that fitted snugly on the typewriter, and allowed me one last look at QWERTY before she bade me type blind!

Nothing happened.  I was paralysed with blind fear.

       Thewui cj brownf oz jumpz ovf the lszu d ig. 

But I persevered, and eventually took my brand new portable typewriter (with black and red ribbon!) to university where, for a while, I was at the very cutting edge of technology while other students were still handing up their laborious, longhand essays.  Touch-typing has been a great asset ever since, especially as computer keyboards have sprouted everywhere; but it’s today, more than thirty years later, that I have become truly grateful for this skill. 

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.  
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. 

None the less, I didn’t type last Sunday.  Words are getting hard to find. By midnight my page was still a disconnected ramble. By Monday night not much had changed, and I gave the game away.  A sad defeat.

For weeks I have toyed with a suspicion that speech is intrinsic to thought: if you change the way you speak, do you change the way you think? I know I am (or was) an ‘out loud’ thinker.  The most wonderful thoughts have usually come to me mid-flight in speech; those glorious, revelatory insights into life are (or were) a beautifully vocal event.  One of my adult daughters once asked me, as we chatted into the night by the ocean, what colours I could see in my mind.  Well, there were no colours at all in my mind!  She is a superbly creative girl, and it was fascinating to hear her talk about the constant stream of colour-consciousness that is to her like language itself.  This conversation awakened me to an aspect of myself: I ‘see’ (or saw) a stream of words of every kind; a continual, textured, sometimes subtle, sometimes comic inner-thesaurus.  But the stream is drying up it seems, and I don’t know what to blame.  Physical ability? Myriad decisions and concerns? Nasty narcotic pain killers? Or speechlessness itself perhaps? 

My typing teacher was a wiry old spinster with her hair pulled back in a bun so tight it flared her nostrils. But she could type at 120 words per minute, hands flying high above a manual typewriter in a crazy racket punctuated by the episodic ‘ding’ at carriage end.  I owe her much; or at least I owe a debt to Providence that took me there to typing school so many years ago.  The congruence of these events – learning to type and needing to type – is inescapable, and often comes to mind.  Although separated by decades they seem a blink apart, giving me confidence that today was seen by Heaven way back then.  This much I understand: I have been well prepared and well equipped.  I feel this providential-preparation in my carpenter’s carryall that I have kept for many years, from which I have been able to create Bugger (the power chair), and other useful gadgets.  I feel it in the many sustaining friendships I enjoy; and I feel it in the schools of faith from which I have learned, which thankfully do not promise every answer here on earth.

Another Sunday-midnight has passed without result; the sun is high and Monday is well underway.  But I shall keep on typing!



7 Responses to “Typing School”

  1. 1 norma chalmers October 3, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Love to hear about the things you have done in your life.Keep up the good work.My heart smiles when I see “rejoice ” on my computer.I believe you are a blessing to all who read your words..Norma.

  2. 2 Greg Hutchinson October 4, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Please keep on typing Roderick! your insight into the world & those who occupy it is profound, beatuiful & often challenging. I love to read your message,& always look forward to it.

  3. 3 roderickmallen October 5, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Thank you for that smile Norma!

  4. 4 roderickmallen October 5, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Thanks Greg; I’ll give it my best shot! See you Sunday.

  5. 5 Trish Tiffen October 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Excellent read and so pleased I didn’t rate a mention!
    Looking forward to next week, yes keeping the pressure up because I am selfish and truely look forward to Monday morning’s Rejoice.

  6. 6 roderickmallen October 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    As the saying goes Trish, “You’ll keep!”
    Pressure is good, thank you indeed.

  1. 1 An Ugly Divorce « Rejoice! Trackback on April 22, 2012 at 7:17 pm
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