A few years ago I was travelling back to Manchester by train. I couldn’t help overhearing the phone conversation of the person sitting opposite me. He was an aspiring actor, travelling back from an audition in London, and he was recounting the experience so loudly the whole carriage couldn’t help but overhear.
He was a interesting character; it quickly become obvious that every setback in his life was someone else’s fault, that the main thing holding him back was people’s inability to see his natural talent.
So I started to take notes: I’ve written elsewhere about how important I think it is to capture conversation live. In those days I used to write notes in the back of the paperback I was reading, and that’s what I did…
… until the aspiring actor noticed what I was doing, and took offence. He’d read my words upside down.
Which is a roundabout introduction to the real reason I learned shorthand: so I could quickly take notes without other people knowing what I was doing.
I was reminded of this on reading the following article on the BBC website: is the art of shorthand dying out?
Perhaps it is. I don’t use shorthand as much as I used to, I now mainly capture notes straight to Evernote on my phone (although I wish there was an app that understood Teeline).
But I don’t regret learning shorthand. It still comes in useful occasionally, capturing conversations, getting ideas down fast, and giving me something to do in boring meetings.
Anyway, isn’t life all about learning new things?