As previously mentioned (here), I have, in the recent years, developed the love for old ‘lived in’ stuff. Furniture, kitchenware, toys, stories… I usually find them at charity shops, on e-bay, or other second-hand sale sites. However, this discovery I am about to share kind of found me. And very unexpectedly, I should say. While at work in a hospital ward that is about to be closed, I came across a well-worn little yellow book that, for some reason, was not packaged and put away along with the heap of other books that used to sit on the shelves there. A shorthand manual, published in 1960.
Up to now, I had never actually seen what shorthand looks like. I just assumed words were somehow shortened to save time. Which, I suppose, they are, technically. Only they look nothing like their original longhand versions, but rather like a meaningless scribble. Or a doctor’s handwriting.
I wonder if anyone uses shorthand nowadays. Does it still have a place in the world where everything is instant as a norm? Is it still practiced by reporters? Court stenographers? Novelists? It would be interesting to know the fate of this style of writing. If you use shorthand or know somebody who does, please share with me. When, why and where did you learn it? Do you use it for personal matters or is it just for work?
Apart from the sudden curiosity in the subject of shorthand that this book has caused in me, I was also intrigued by the scribbles in pen and pencil on its more-than-50-year-old pages. Some of them are shorthand practice. Others of a more personal nature. Mostly Louise + Niall, Lisa + Paul. In some cases Paul has been crossed out and replaced by David. It would be so interesting to know the story behind these names. Was she a patient in love with a nurse? or another patient maybe? Could it have been a student nurse on placement in the hospital, scribbling out her feelings on the pages of the book? How many years ago was that? What became of those people?
I love old items with stories to tell. The fleeting narratives in time attached to a tangible object passed on into the future. With traces of human life…