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Showing posts from September, 2017

Reasons why it's worth keeping up your shorthand skills

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It seems like an ancient craft now, akin to basket-weaving or the making of quills, but I learned to write Pitman shorthand when training for my first career as a medical secretary in 1979. (I also learned to type on traditional typewriters with their clatter and bash and 'ting' as the carriage went back and forth when one started a new line.)


It's hard to imagine now, but in my role as a medical secretary, I would walk into a doctor's consulting room after he (in the 1980s, invariably 'he') had finished the morning surgery. He'd dictate fifteen or so letters to the patients' general practitioners or to other consultants, reporting on what he'd found or on a diagnosis, or referring patients on, and I'd scribble them down in shorthand in my little notebook in squiggles and dashes and lines and dots.

Inevitably, mistakes were made in transcribing the letters back. Doctors often dictated so quickly - some while pacing up and down while eating a lun…

Fran's Flood and the Firemen - Episode 3

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If you haven't read Episodes 1 and 2 of the story of our holiday flood adventure and you wish to catch up on the details, they're here and here.

Episode 3 - the final episode, including the arrival of the Giant Bee Dehumidifiers

... We already felt well acquainted with Wednesday when daylight broke and it was time to get up, as we'd discovered the flood at 2 am and the firemen hadn't left until 4.

Neither of us had slept since then. Paul had been busy not-sleeping in a bed. I had been busy not-sleeping under a duvet in the living room. We felt disorientated. Did that all really happen? The flood .. the firemen ... the police officers ... the surprise! neighbour?

No worries. Absent-mindedly walking onto the damp quarry tiles in bare feet soon jolted us into the real world.

And we had proof that it had not been a surreal dream in the form of a fire officer's torch. Here's a quarter of Paul, holding the torch. On his face was a look that said, 'I'm trying n…

Fran's Flood and the Firemen - Episode 2

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If you haven't read Episode 1 and want to, it's here

Episode 2 of our tale of flooded-holiday-flat-woe

...... Four firemen followed me hurriedly into the holiday flat.

(I'll say that again. I've always wanted to.)

Four firemen followed me hurriedly into the holiday flat.

Paul was waiting in the hall, surrounded by cascading water on all sides, as though he'd climbed into the Niagara Falls for a photo opportunity.

We explained to the firemen that:

1. The flat was owned by the people upstairs.
2. The people upstairs were away on holiday.
3. There was another flat next to ours but we thought it was empty.
4. Yes, we'd dialled the number of the owners while awaiting the fire engine and had left a message, but no one had picked up the phone.
5. No, we didn't want to die.

We pulled on coats and followed the firemen outside while they went to inspect the Big House. Outside the gate, the fire engine flashed its lights and kept its engine running. Curtains twitched i…