Albright spells out the benefits of new technology

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Take heart, all those writers who suffer from treacherous typing fingers and all those editors who can never seem to get rid of "typos". There is someone out there who is probably worse than you: none other than the US Secretary of State, or rather, "sefetary fo state".

Ms Albright, who once considered a career in journalism, revealed her dependency on the spell-checker when she ventured on to the Internet during her two-day visit to Moscow.

After dining with the Russian Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, she sat down at a computer terminal for an interactive chat which linked her up with some 3,000 schools in 47 countries in a discussion about her trip and US foreign policy.

True, she was surrounded by television cameras, and was bombarded by more than 100 questions, ranging from her China policy to a demand for her views on female circumcision.

But the results make Dan Quayle - who once famously forced a schoolboy to spell potato with an "e" on the end - look like the author of the Oxford English Dictionary. Here, if only to cheer up those of us who live with the headache of the "typo", are a few extracts:

t "I am very optimistic about the schol\ol system because we are spending musch more time workign for our best standards. President Clinton has decided that making our school stysetme work better is the most important agenda items so that all of your can be readi for the tewenty first centiruy. sorry about y tios."

t "I never dreamed that I could be sefetary fo state ... we never thought that we could be in a postiont to make decision for our country.

t "Our relaitonship with Russia is aone of the most important in the world and therefore we like to have many meetings where we can exchange ideas. I will be coming to Helsinki with the Presdient. I have never been to Helsinki and I am looking forward to it. tonight I ate caviar and ststurgeon, with Russian blini. A wonderful but rattenging dinner."

We can only assume that "rattenging" is a comment about the huge amount of calories in Russian food. Quite understandably, given her heavy diplomatic duties, Ms Albright does not want to become a rat person.

Phil Reeves