When I turned thirteen, my parents sent me to Sacred Heart College, a private Catholic girls’ school. We weren’t Catholic, but my parents seemed to think I would be safe there from the evils of boys and booze and cigarettes. It turns out they were wrong, but that’s an entirely different story.
I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I left school. I had narrowed it down to a doctor, an actress or an interior designer.
‘Take shorthand typing,’ my mother said. ‘You never know when you might need it.’
‘But I don’t want to be a secretary like you,’ I said. It wasn’t until much later that I realised how hurtful that must have sounded.
‘It will always come in handy,’ she said.
So twice a week I sat in a room with twenty-seven other pubescent girls and learned how to type. Sister Catherine, dressed in full nun finery, stood at the front of the room and shouted instructions to us.
‘A S D F,’ she said. ‘J K L semi-colon.’
We had small leather covers over the typewriter keys so we couldn’t look down at our hands. Sometimes Sister Catherine played a record on an old gramophone player, the sing-song voice teaching us how to type in time to music.
I am grateful my mother forced me to take typing lessons all those years ago.
These days, I can touch type exceptionally quickly and I don’t have to look at my fingers. Sometimes, I even type with my eyes closed.
My mother never could have predicted the invention of the computer along with the necessity to use a keyboard, but somehow she knew it would come in handy one day.
Did you learn typing at school?
What did your mother force you to learn that has come in handy later in life?
What are you grateful for today?