Thursday, November 05, 2009

Not All Typists Wore Knickers: For a few years in my younger life, (1969-1972), I worked in an office. The first employer turned me down for having long hair, but I didn't know that, so when they advertised another job, I applied again. At the second interview, the office manager told me this was the reason, and if I could have "a bit of a trim" then the job was mine.
So I had a very, very minor 'trim,' they gave me the job, and when being introduced to the managing director, who happened to see me at the first interview, but had refused me the job because he "didn't want to bring this long haired yobbo fashion into the office," he looked at my hair, went "Hmph," shook my hand rather limply, and then walked away.
They sent me on some day-release courses, a Certificate In Office Studies and then ONC Business Studies at Poole College. The students, like me, worked in offices and turned up every Tuesday for Accounts, Economic Geography, Law and all sorts of other topics; and typing.
Unlike now, when every PC and laptop has got a keyboard and everyone can, to a degree, 'type;' then, it was regarded as 'pouffy,' 'a bit girlie' or just plain 'effeminate;' and "blokes dug holes in the road, they didn't type; typing's for girls!"
Nevertheless, we typed on the old fashioned metal typewriters which had a ribbon, (even more girlie!), and a bell, and were supposed to use certain fingers to hit certain keys; but unfortunately, us blokes couldn't do that, and we just used our two index fingers.
Now and again the tutor would give us 'speed tests,' which was a measure of our typing speed in 'words per minute,' with which a typist would get a job, or not, and the higher their wpm, the more money they were paid.
Charlie Thomas, a chap who worked for the local gas board at their Bourne Valley offices, was the fastest typist on the course, and the tutor went mad because he only used his two index fingers. But did it matter?
My brother and I were bought a typewriter, more at my insistence than his, I expect, as a shared Xmas present one year, so I had already done a good deal of typing, and wasn't far behind Charlie Thomas in the wpm speed stakes. Then Fate and Destiny took a hold of my life and I started the fanzine for Motorhead; and the first issue was published in January 1980. And even at that time, typing was still regarded as pouffy, girlie and all the rest of it; but Mrs. B was a trained typist, so I used to add 'typing by Jane' so that everyone thought I was too big, tough and macho to do such a thing; when in actual fact, and despite being big, tough and macho, I had typed every word.