Move over, quick brown fox. Lazy dog? You’re not needed any more.

I taught myself to type. Amazing isn’t it? You’d never guesowa4er.

I had a book. A kind of spiral bound thing that came with the typewriter. Yes – a proper typewriter with ribbons and everything. And this book had typing exercises and sentences for you to type in order to improve your skills. The person who devised this typing course really used their ingenuity to make sure no key went untapped. Tricky combinations of letters were clearly a priority. The quick brown fox looked very dull by comparison.

Let me tell you, once you make it mandatory to include z u x q j and k in every sentence, you move into a bizarre parallel universe that resembles nothing so much as an episode of Mapp and Lucia. Some of those sentence are with me still:

Bezique was the game often played to vex Jake.

Pack my box with exactly half a dozen jugs of liquid veneer.

The bad major will fix a quiet, cozy nook for the vexed gypsy.

Vaulting over the larkspurs brought him a dozen worries.

Now that’s a universe I wouldn’t mind inhabiting!


21 thoughts on “Move over, quick brown fox. Lazy dog? You’re not needed any more.

  1. When I’m tired I still find myself using lower case ‘l’ and ‘o’ as ‘1’ and ‘0’ (which were missing on my old typewriter), which is fine until you start doing it in spreadsheets.

  2. rilly as an (allegedly) bestselling novelist, i should love to read that ms. send it tout de suite!
    lucY how vexatious! those jugs of liquid veneer are so heavy – you should have asked the bad major to help you move them
    ben i do hope you don’t work at the treasury
    poulet i’m so touched! all those consonants, just for me
    lm it most certainly is – i think it’s the tippex (remember that?)what does it
    now i want to learn bezique – can anyone teach me?

  3. When I worked on a local newspaper many, many years ago, I worked on a typewriter like that. Which is why my fingers are now the width of frying pans.

  4. I showed my eldest daughter (9) my mum’s old Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cakes Book – and Aussie classic from which all the cakes for myself and my brothers emerged each year.

    She looked at the picture of the typewriter cake for a long time, before turning to me and asking “Is it a calculator?”

    (And Wyndham? As the lowly cadet on a newspaper many years ago I was given the portable typewriter while the others got massive electronic terminals. I still have a ganglion the size of a ping pong ball on my left wrist.)

  5. This takes me back to my typing classes at school in the mid 1970’s. In those days, taking typing classes was the only way to convince your parents that you were going to get a *nice* job as a secretary and not end up in the same kind of vile dead end factory job they had.

    God, the rattle of thirty or so big old rusty typewriters clattering away on wonky desks! The tortuous, marathon two hour Wednesday session, typing out those endless one sentence exercises every week!

    Manual typists end up with much stronger little fingers than the rest of the population. Once they’ve gone throught the pain barrier, that is.

  6. wyndham i’ve just been to look at my fryingpan – and i must commiserate. there are many things that must be tricky for you these days. my fingers are too muscular to allow me to txt successfully – that’s my excuse, anyroad.
    vexed gypsy that’s my very favourite! can’t you just see her, slamming her crystal ball down on the table and glaring at the bad major from under her monobrow? on the subject of veneer – why jugs? i’m terribly worried about spillage.
    bec typewriter cake – i think i’d like one of them. (actually, any cake will do) remember carbon paper? and i was just thinking today – when i started out in publishing, i did camera-ready paste up, cutting galleys with a scalpel and sticking them down using that wax stuff. page numbers were hell! happy days (?)
    betty it might work to our advantage one day though, having fingers like a rock-climbing jazz pianist (that’s a direct lift from scrubs). say you were with indiana jones and the the bridge collapsed and you were hanging on with one hand. survival of the typist, my friend! it’s positively darwinian.

  7. I did typing classes for a bit at sixth form college to fill a big gap between morning and afternoon classes on a wednesday. Clackety clack went all the typewriters. There was alwyas one girl that was super fast – Susan – and she had really long nails too – a born personal secretary. I alway seemed to be lagging behind with endless lines of the brown fox jumped or something like that. BUT – it did teach me how to set out a letter which I have never forgotten so it was of use really. There weren’t any boys in typing class. Hmm. I gave up half way through the first term as it was soooooo boring. I stopped when I’d got enough out of it as there was no way I was destined for a typing pool. Swimming and typing at the same thing just sounds a bit too hard really.

  8. “Exactly half a dozen jugs”? That one was made up. As jugs come in single units there is no requirements here for fractions.

    Some jugs come in pairs though. They are quite interesting.

  9. I still have the typing made easy book I bought myself all those years ago. Never really did learn how to touch type, but it’s a very useful skill in this day and age.

  10. romo good to see you back! why are those girls always called susan? swimming and typing – hahahaha – i nver thought of that before!
    brom saucy! i can’t get over the idea of spillage – why jugs? why not jars with tight-fitting lids?
    sylvia hello – my book was called ‘typing made surreal’. oh all right, it wasn’t, but it should have been.

  11. And what did the bad major get up to with the vexed gypsy in the quiet, cosy nook I wonder? Was he/she more or less vexed afterwards?

  12. anticant history does not relate – but i’m prepared to bet there were lots of xes and zeds in it …(if i were as clever as poulet noir – see above – i’d construct a proper answer)

  13. Pingback: online typing jobs

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