Death by Teeline

01Mar09

So I have my first Teeline Shorthand exam on Thursday. Luckily for me resits for this one only cost £11.50 which is a lot less painful that the whopping £74 I am going to have to cough up for my Law resits. 

Anyway its only 60/70 words per minute which is more or less Queen’s Speech speed. You get to decide when you pay before the exam which speed you want to take but if the exam goes badly then you can take the other speed and pay on the day for the privilege! I am going for 70 just because it seems stupid to only go for 60. 

Only half our class are going for it this time which is fair because there is no point in sitting an exam you aren’t ready for. Trust me, I am living those words of wisdom with my Law resits looming. 

The problem is, for me at least, when the passage is being read all it takes is one slip up and you’ve lost it completely! The entire passage has to be written verbatim and you are only permitted the number of mistakes which make up a tenth of your shorthand speed so 70 wpm permits 7 mistakes and so on. 

So you could be deliberating in your head how the outline for “architects” ought to look and half a sentence has slipped by and you haven’t the foggiest what it could be. Names are a worry too. I have perfected all the usual culprits – surnames such as Brown, Green, Jones and White occur a lot. For once I am glad that the NCTJs exam board hasn’t decided to diversify for the sake of equal opportunities as of yet as I don’t think I could quite manage anything more exotic than very dull, English names. Just don’t throw a Fortescue in or a Llewelyn-Bowen. 

Similarly, the content (as with the names, Mary Brown comes up a lot) is terribly dull which can cause your mind to refuse to pay attention because there are better things to be thinking about… like sex or what you are going to have for tea or the fact you should have really gone to the toilet before all this palaver. Stories reminiscent of rural, local news during the silly season comes to mind – potholes, church roofs, volunteer groups etc. Never has there been a good story about a politician being found in bed dressed in a gimp costume being spanked by a big, hairy gigolo. I’d pay attention and scribble everything down furiously if it were. But the NCTJ, I have learned, have no sense of humour for things of that nature where their exams are concerned. 

You’d think, though, that it isn’t really doing as good a job at preparing us thrusting youngsters realistically for a career in this industry because all the best stories are the ones that are interesting and in all honesty, the ones we have to do in our shorthand exams happen to be the sorts of stories you would have a press release for anyway. 

This is all just me trying to come up with an excuse for not having to do this exam… as I do with all my exams. With Newswriting is was the fact that it is something you learn in the trade and not by exam technique (plus we are all natural newswriters anyway having journalism in our blood), Public Affairs I deemed pointless as the goal posts are always changing and legislation for things like Europe and Education are ever shifting so the best we can do is use Wikipedia on the day, and finally with Law, any respected media newsroom will have a legal eagle on hand to check the facts so why bother. This notion apparently overrode my diligently revised statutes and case law on the day having failed both my law exams. 

So Teeline – for those of you who are not familiar – is a kind of weird abbreviation but all the letters are invented or used differently from what the Sesame Street alphabet taught us all. Words are written like a drunk person speaks. Words like absolutely are spelled absy and vowels don’t even get a mention unless they are crucial to understanding that word. 

I am lucky to have reached the stage now where I have made up some of my own which I find easier than the prescribed outlines. Words like Husband and Population I write differently. You feel sort of proud for doing that – almost like you are proving Teeline wrong. Then you can’t read it back when you transcribe and Teeline gives you a clip round the ear and tells you to listen because it knows best.

But after a while it starts to do funny things to your mind! You start writing long-hand words but with a little Teeline thrown in like a shorthand “in” or “be” because its easier. Or you look at a poster outside the cinema and start practicing what it says in Teeline. You may even start to dream in Teeline and do basic tasks like writing a shopping list in Teeline. It takes over your life! 

So the flavour of the week will be shorthand and lets hope I don’t have to add another resit to my ever expanding list.

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One Response to “Death by Teeline”

  1. 1 Stammer

    Ha ha! You write in a natural and amusing way Rose. Hang in there and then start to apply this fine style outside the narrow confines of your course audience. If you can apply this dry, droll commentary style to the broader world, you will find an audience quickly. BUT…remember, they are looking for an author who can capture THEIR world and play it back to them, not YOUR narrow personal concerns. Fine for now, but shortly you must forget yourself, and speak to THEM! Until now you have been speaking to your own reflection Rose, and with excellent effect – but it’s time to smash the mirror.


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