I’m having trouble finding the words.
To be more accurate, I’m having trouble finding the letters with which to make the words.
That’s because they’ve been slowly wearing off the keys of my little four-years-old silver Asus lappy-toppy box-thing, and several purely black ones are leaving me guessing as to their alphanumerical or punctuational function. (It has occurred to me that there is some correlation to be drawn here between the vanishing keypad and my aging, fuddled brain, from which stuff is disappearing at an alarming rate. However, while stuck in the bathroom the other day, the names, faces, functions and disturbing habits of the entire teaching staff at my preparatory school came flooding back after fifty-five years…)
Take, for instance, the title of this piece: ‘Clickety-click’ (Bingo-callers’ argot for the number 66). Because Christmas is coming, there’s no ‘l’… (Type of humour to avoid. Ed.) No, seriously, when first set down, it emerged as ‘Ckickety-ckick’. That’s because ‘k’ falls next to the invisible ‘l’ and my typing-finger brain tends to go for the nearest key to the one I can’t find.
Other letters you may not get in the post this Autumn include ‘a’, ‘n’ and ‘e’, followed soon I anticipate by ‘s’, ‘m’ and ‘t’, whose traces are precarious.
You might think that, turning 66 today as I have, I should have taken a typing course by now, if it mattered. Or that, having been a journalist for several years and earned a meagre living, such as it was, almost entirely since then from the typed word, in various editorial roles, I should by now have succeeded in memorising which fingers need to go where.
My lightning reflexes however have always made it unnecessary to prestidigitate on the keyboard without needing to look where I’m going. I’m not much one for automatism. I can rapidly look at the keys, assimilate their positions, unscramble the three fingers you need for this sort of thing, and go for the letters with a fair degree of alacrity.
I’ve written millions of words this way, a penny a piece. But I do need to be able to see what I’m doing, where I’m going. And now I can’t, not entirely. I’ve become keenly long-sighted.
Muh gudfriend, Tony H. (it’s not a winsome literary abbreviation, I genuinely can’t remember his name) brought cake to choir practice, that he had baked himself, and the little group sang Happy Birthday, which happily had passed out of copyright last week. I emerged with my soup-strainer moustache, that I am having to grow to play a pirate in a pantomime, sticky with delicious chocolate fondant.
The practice was for a fundraiser at our local supermarket later in the morning, entitled ‘Buckets for Boobs’ – a clue being breast-cancer awareness. I stayed on after and joined in another choir I sometimes sing with for charity, happily for them as, while they were vastly over-represented in the ladyboobs department, only a tiny handful of men had turned out.
What is it with men, we’re such a handful?
Anyway, they sang Happy Birthday afterwards too, in public, which was a bit embarrassing, since I have tried to keep up a reputation for being surly and unhelpful in choir, apart from always knowing the start-note while the leader is off fumbling with some weird tuning device or another, refusing to believe me, and we were blocking the supermarket exit.
And along with the card I got from my old mum, and the four bottles of wine I plan to take to a party this evening, and the place on the weekend jazz workshop next month that I’ve thoughtfully given myself as a present, to go with the £3,000 guitar I gave myself last month as a precaution in case I forgot my birthday this month, that’s been about it.
Eyes down for a full-house.