Sunday 30 October 2011

Magpie 89 - The downside of modern technology

"You can fall back on shorthand and typing,"
Said her mother, "it's all you will need."
So Monica went off to Pitmans
And brought herself right up to speed.
At hundreds of words to the minute
Our Monica was top of her class,
She thought that the sky was her limit,
Poor girl! For years later - alas -
Along came computers, and suddenly
Skilled typists were needed no more,
For children of five were taught typing
And could churn out the words by the score.

Poor Monica sat in her garret
"I've no work and no money," she cried.
So she typed a last note to her mother,
And drank all her Tipex. And died.

(Thanks to Magpie Tales for the photograph)


  1. OMG Frances - this is sheer brilliance!

    I'm a touch typist and it is a skill I am glad that I have, yet as you say kids today are keyboard literate. Both my sons spend a lot of their working days on computers, are not touch typists - but can type at amazing speeds and often without looking.

    How they do - I don't know.

    Anna :o]

  2. I love this! Thank you, Frances. It will strike a chord with my mother, who was a shorthand typist for years, and then taught secretarial skills at college, and cannot believe that nowadays very young children can type so well and at such speed.

  3. Cute take. All it needs is an illustration by Edward Gorey. And while still on the topic, I think the world, certainly the business world, was a better place when typing was done by trained typists. The things some people do to the printed page make me cry. My Magpie this week is Poet.

  4. Yup. Typing is the new handwriting. I used to have something called penmanship but I type everything now.

  5. oh very noir-- a bit chilling but also quite amusing! xxxj

  6. Loving it... Great last line!

  7. That cute little rhyme scheme had me fooled. Killer ending!

  8. Fabulous poem! I think touch typing should be taught at infants school. It's such a valuable skill.

  9. Oh dear - she corrected herself to death.

  10. A brisk and happy nightmare, like Bobby Darin singing "Artificial Flowers".

  11. Wonderfully done, Frances! Poor Monica and her poor misguided mother!
    I guess timing is the key (no pun intended) here. I'm so glad I learned to type in high school. I hated it, but I ended up making my living at keyboards of one sort or another, all with basically the same QWERTY layout.

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  12. Frances--I am old enough that I took typing classes in school. Thank goodness, the days of correction tape and having to re-type things if rearrangement was necessary--those days are gone.

    I loved the twist at the end. Delicious!

  13. Oh, yes! There was all that. The end twist is perfect.

  14. This cracked me up! Poor Monica!

  15. ..sad take on the prompt... i least expected your story.. great take!


  16. Poor Monica indeed!!!
    When I learnt typing, it was on - figure this! - a MECHANICAL typewriter, not even an electric one. And I am still glad I did!
    You can always tell if someone has learnt typing properly or not; some "unlearned" people can, admittedly, type quite fast, but they lack the "fineries" and you will find a lot more typos in their letters, emails and blogs than in others.

  17. Not only a great little rhyme with so true sentiments, but a killer twist as well!

  18. Dear Frances: The perils of "Pitmans". Yes I remember this exact same speech from those who thought they knew the turn of techology would make obsolete. Never heard of "Tipex", Liquid Paper in the early days of white out I suppose! :)

  19. Great fun. Tippling on Tippex not recommended.

  20. Thanks for all those comments! I learned to type years ago when I was in a mental hospital (yes. As a patient) and the occupational therapy choices were typing or basket weaving. But my typing is still appalling, as I end up with all the right letters in the wrong order. Keyboard dyslexia.

    But at least I escaped the baskets.
    (Now I come to think of it, encouraging basket cases - which most of us were - to weave baskets seemed particularly cruel.)

  21. wow what a grizzly tale...but also a harsh reality for many out of work now feeling useless...

  22. Wonderful! I love it!

  23. That's a bit sad, but it's true too. But then, not everyone's like that... There's still hope. A lot of it.

    Arnab Majumdar on

  24. Thanks, Gail!

    Isabel, I still find myself looking for Tipex (but never find it...)

    Arnab, of course there's hope!