Letter: Playing to type

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The Independent Online
Sir: I know little of teachers, but I expect Gerald Haigh ('Quick minds, but slow fingers', 14 January) is right about their view of touch-typing. After all, most of the population shares it.

My colleagues draft press releases in longhand, then read them into dictaphones. Then a secretary types them. Our clerks 'write' letters much the same way, telephoning their drafts to the typing unit.

This is common in offices, and has been logical, as copywriters' time is dearer than typists', and until recently only trained typists could produce decent results. Word processing at first was difficult, and expensive, so it, too, was done by specialists. But word processors are cheap and easy to use now, so practicalities only partly explain our reluctance to type. The main reasons, I believe, are cultural.

In this country (unlike the US, where it is a mark of literacy) typing is identified as menial work performed by women. Outside journalism, it seems, a man at a keyboard is a noteworthy and slightly embarrassing sight.

I have tried to interest colleagues in that 'world where the writer is liberated from the mechanical process', as Mr Haigh so aptly describes it. They don't take me seriously. My own typing is seen as an eccentricity - not quite shameful, but worth a patronising smile.

Yours faithfully,

PETER ROBERTSON

Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire

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