One of my student’s last week watched me typing and sighed, he said, ‘I wish I could type that fast. How did you learn it?’ I have never really taken much note of how fast I type, I am not a traditionally taught typist.
Typing was not offered to boys when I went to school as those in charge deemed it was beneath boys; this view was shit out of luck when the BBC Commodore arrived at our school and boys sat in the new computer room (the corridor) and approached the keyboard like that scene with apes using tools for the first time in 2001. Those in charge wondered why the girls seemed to get computers faster than boys and why some boys could suddenly type. I got my first typewriter back in the age of myth, in those days, giants threw stones across the valley, goblins stole gold and Kings forged alliances with supermarkets. My typewriter was bulky, handy when fighting orcs and generally great at multitasking, by day knocking out tales about space rockets, by night propping open the door to allow a draft to come through as dragons heated up the summer. All that nonsense aside, that typewriter followed me to university, many of my essays were written on it, I hammered the shit out of that keyboard. It fell to pieces in my final year and I invested in a secondhand Amstrad word processor, the type with punched holes on the printer paper and with all the processing power of a Tamagotchi keyring. In fact Tamagotchi had more processing power and did not require 3 1/2 inch floppy discs (I have just binned a load of the after nearly 20+ years of holding on to them in some kind of romantic idea that I will one day revisit the past like Marty McFly). I hated that Amstrad. It blew up. Typewriters don’t blow up. During all that time I did have a daliance with early computers, I had an Acorn Electron, my friend later had an Amiga and we wrote house music on it. It was fantastic and meant that we never used a four track again. We had sixteen tracks on that. For the record, you find most writers love music or have been a musician or continue to play a banjo in the bath. So, over the years my four fingers, for I do type with four fingers, have become the fastest fingers in the west. I do roughly between 56 and 64 words a minute, but they tend be like this: jfjy\jck ek\jduh\n,mm ebjfhsjnsknc,m, which was once the opening to a dance song I wrote with the late and lamented, Mike Fairclough, he owned the Amiga and pickled bums. He would find that last line hilarious as we both had a love for Vic and Bob. Farewell, Mike, you lousy bastard dying on me, I miss you. Anyway, enough of that maudlin stuff and back to the heartache of typing, the typewriter made me choose my words carefully because carbon paper was expensive and white out (tippex) was even more expensive and got you high if you used too much. This meant you typed S-L-O-W-L-Y. By the time the Amstrad arrived I typed faster but no longer looked at the screen because it was black and the text was green and the whole thing felt like a headache. This meant much of what I wrote back then was FAST and SHIT. In rolled the desktop, and in the internet, which meant most of my twenties was lost in gaming and porn. Yes, porn in the age of dial up, ask your parents, it was like playing crap roulette. That was the upside of having a typewriter, it was only connected to you. You could write rude comments on it but as porn content went it was rather limited. Then numerous laptops, a settling down of the libido and a decade of hammering away at a keyboard no one other than me would want to touch – see porn. Anyway, back to the keyboard and typing, and here I am today with my speedy four fingers and the ability to actually read the screen without getting high off tippex or blind from green text. All in 20 years. Frightening, like my hard drive and search history on that old desktop.