Saturday, 22 July 2017

Pond Dramas



My garden pond is generally a haven of peace and tranquillity, with goldfish swimming lazily in and out of the sunny* and shady patches, and gliding between the water lily leaves. They appear out of the darker areas, to be lit up by the sun in brilliant orange, yellow or pink shapes, and then disappear again into the shadows. The black ones come into view when they swim over the light green mossy areas. On a warm day I sometimes sit and eat lunch on the garden bench alongside and watch their comings and goings. They are continually patrolling their* domain looking for titbits to eat, sometimes finding a fly and sometimes mooching around in the blanket weed that grows all around the shallows. Occasionally what is swallowed is spat back out as an inedible piece of floating debris.

* "sunny" Always insert vowels in "sun/sunny" & "snow/snowy"

* "patrolling their" Doubling for "their"



The calm of their world is not entirely unbroken. If there is* a sudden fright, the fish will rapidly turn tail and, as some of them* are quite large, they can produce a big noisy splash as they go. It only takes one fish to do this and the others will follow instantly, just like any bird or animal will do, react now and stay safe. Fortunately the bench is a few feet away, so lunch no longer gets spattered with pond water, resulting in the crusts having to be redirected to the sparrows and blackbirds. Sometimes they do this because one of the larger ones has come close to the edge for a pellet or bit of bread, and their tolerance for this unsafe position runs out within a few seconds, what I call grab and run. Occasionally they fail to get it, as the lunge and fast retreat are all carried out* in one movement, with no stopping to check if the food has actually been captured. Then, when the commotion has died down, a smaller fish, to whom the shallower water is not so threatening, will casually* swim up and get the piece without any fear or hurry. Other times the crumb will suddenly disappear from sight, not some mysterious exit into another dimension but eaten by one of the black fish, who are mostly invisible against the background.

* "If there is" You can double "if" to add "their/there" but "for" is not doubled

* "carried out" Halving to represent the T of "out"


Another noisy event that happens more frequently* is when one of the biggest fishes decides to nose around in the weeds at the shallow shelf end, where the marginal plants grow out over the water. It will sometimes ram itself into the weedy area, flipping its tail left and right, with the hump of its back and fin right out of the water. Sometimes it is a joint effort with two of them, and a few smaller ones, all wanting to benefit from the attack, which often sounds like someone entering a swimming pool from a water chute. Having dislodged and eaten any insects hiding there, there is then more thrashing about to reverse or turn round and get back to deeper water. There is no chance of them accidentally getting stranded on the surrounding soil edge, as there is a wire mesh fence all round. This did happen to one fish many years ago but we noticed the fish in time and it recovered from the ordeal. Now I ensure the base of the mesh is right on the edge.

* "frequently" The semicircle W sign is shown, but the outline is perfectly readable without writing it in


Sometimes there is a single plopping splash, from a fish deciding to lunge upwards after a fly either on the surface or just above. If the fish lands on the lily leaves, it then has to rapidly slither between them* and disappear out of sight but most times they just fall back straight downwards. As there are many goldfish, any insect landing on the surface stands no chance at all of surviving more than a few seconds. The ripples from its* struggles do not go unnoticed for long. The vibrations from a trapped fly also attract the attention of the pond skaters, who close in on the target with great speed. Apparently they can skate at a metre per second. They themselves do not seem to suffer predation by the goldfish, as their feet just dent the surface of the water and they glide over it with much less disturbance. When several pond skaters converge on a fly, they will fight each other for it, jumping off the water and over each other. The victor will then sit on its prize in triumphant ownership of its meal.

* Omission phrase "betwee(n) them"

* "from its" Halving to represent "it". Note this "its" here is a possessive and is not spelled with an apostrophe.


There are many other little dramas that take place*. A bee or wasp may end up inside the netting. The holes are only 15 millimetres wide, not large enough for them to get through while their wings are going. They can only escape by landing and crawling out. Occasionally I have found a dragonfly or butterfly inside and they need help, as they tend to flutter in one place, without looking for another route out. There are lots* of large gaps and spaces all round, and over the top surface, which is made up of several separate strips with open spaces between them*. There are easy escape routes everywhere so that no bird can become trapped, and these are positioned so that any visiting heron cannot use them to attack.

* "take place" Note that the phrase "taken place" omits the L hook

* "lots" Insert the vowel in this and in "masses" as they are similar in shape and meaning

* Omission phrase "betwee(n) them"


One day we found a young wood pigeon sitting inside on the edge, wondering what to do. It must have* landed on the centre of the netting, sunk down and fluttered to the plants at the side. Despite the big size of the top gaps, they are not large enough for a pigeon to fly out, but fortunately there are not long periods when no-one is at home. I had to walk up carefully* on the far side and very slowly roll back the netting, and being a young bird it stayed still and unafraid* until we gave some gentle encouragement for it to fly away. (975 words)

* Omission phrase "it mus(t) have"

* "carefully" Optional contraction

* "unafraid" It is the Fr stroke that is on the line, so it does not matter where the N stroke ends up. Note that "afraid" on its own has a left Fr plus stroke D.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Vintage Festival







A few weeks ago* we went to an event in a nearby park which celebrated the vehicles and lifestyle of the middle part of the 20th century. There were* classic cars, motorbikes and scooters, and stalls selling items from earlier eras. The first thing we saw on entering the park gates were rows of vintage cars, in every colour and shape, all gleaming, polished* and perfect in every detail. They were parked on the grass in spaced out rows, with plenty of room for admirers to wander* around and inspect the chrome work and elegant interiors. The older visitors were reminiscing on when they owned such cars and were obviously enjoying seeing them again, restored to a condition probably better than when they first left the factory. It was difficult to imagine that these cars were the ultimate in modernity at the time.

* Omission phrases "a few wee(k)s ago"  "there (w)ere"

* "polished" Uses upward Ish in order to be able to join the T. The form "polish" has a normal downward Ish.

* "wander" Note the pronunciation rhymes with "ponder", hence the first place dash vowel. Also "wonder" rhymes with "thunder". Such are the vagaries of English spelling that inspired Isaac Pitman to create a more accurate system.


There were* stalls selling every sort of vintage item, household goods, gadgets, and toys, but mostly* clothes stalls, with genuine vintage shirts and dresses in gaudy colours and bold designs, boots and belts, hats and handbags, and all the accoutrements that went with them. Quite a few people were already dressed in their forties, fifties and sixties outfits, and I had to remind myself that they were not necessarily reliving those times, as many of them would not have been born then. But they faithfully copied the look, including hairstyles, so they did appear to have walked out of the pages of a magazine, a poster or a colour film of those periods. This was an opportunity to try out different fashions from the past, exciting and fun for the younger people, and a trip down memory lane for the older people, especially as all the items for sale* were genuine ones, with the expected wear and tear apparent on them. So, nostalgia and novelty, all within reach for various age groups, but not so far* back in time as to be alien or strange.

* Omission phrase "there (w)ere"

* "mostly" Omits the lightly sounded T

* "for sale" Downward L in order to join the phrase

* "so far" The outline for "far" on its own has full strokes


There were several large tents dedicated to different time periods. One had a dance floor, with fifties style music and people dancing in the styles popular then. Another had toys of the sixties and seventies, including a row of computers* all loaded with very basic early computer* games, simple to play and only requiring fast reactions rather than thinking or strategy. The forties tent had another dance floor with wartime music and dancing, and a cake table with everything made to Ministry of Food recipes. In the opposite corner were two tables containing a large array of children’s toys and games, many of which I recognised and remembered* as still being available in the sixties. On the tent walls were reproductions of posters on how households can help the war effort, reducing wastage and volunteering for various duties. Outside the tent was a shelter, a mock-up of a little Dig For Victory vegetable patch and a warden sitting reading his wartime newspaper. From the far corner of the park enclosure came the sound of wartime songs, some jolly, others wistful* and emotional, an encouragement for the people of the time to share their troubles and appreciate their triumphs.

* "computers" Cannot join the diphthong sign in the plural, therefore cannot use doubling. "computer" can join the diphthong sign, so therefore can use doubling.

* "remembered" Optional short dash through the stroke to signify past tense in a short form or contraction

* "wistful" Omits the lightly sounded T




I left the event briefly to do some shopping but on the way to the supermarket I glimpsed a lot of scooters zooming down the high street. After shopping I quickly returned to the park and found all the scooters parked down the centre of the area. They were in all colours and sizes, and my favourites were the ones with lots of extra headlamps on the front and a multitude of wing mirrors at the sides. Scooters always look like fun, as they are low and stable looking, and gentler than motorbikes. I did ride on such a scooter when I was about eight, when my uncle invited me to sit behind him on a short journey around the streets. It was quite alarming as I had to hold on to him and there was nothing behind me to help keep me on, and especially hair-raising when we leaned over sideways as we went round corners. I am sure it is more pleasant to be the one holding onto the handlebars and to be in control of the speed and direction.


I was delighted to see an old Routemaster bus parked on the grass. These were the ones I got on every day to school, with no closing doors and an open back entrance, wonderful chrome bell pushes both up and downstairs, and an especially interesting concertina leather* blind that the driver could pull down behind him to block the passengers’ view of his cab. In the main display area there was also a modern single decker bus that had been converted into a snack vending bar, the Omnibus* Kitchen, which can be driven around to any such event. This is my ideal bus and I suppose one could go further and make a complete home out of it, rather like a long red caravan with all comforts and facilities included. I shall think of it every time I see my normal identical* bus approaching, especially on the way home when things are getting a little peckish. (864 words)

* "leather" Stroke L is doubled for the "-ter" sound only when it is alone, i.e. when it has no other stroke, hook or tick. Compare "washleather" "launder" "wilder" "holder" where it is doubled.

* "Omnibus" Helpful to insert the first vowel, as this is similar to "minibus"

* "identical" Contraction that omits the N, therefore on the line

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Instructor Phrases Section 7

These sentences practise the phrases in Section 7 page 220 of the Instructor, Omissions: Logograms (short forms)



This is the last section of advanced phrases in the Instructor. I find that the simpler short phrases learned early on give no trouble, and it is easy to apply their principles to make new similar ones. The omission phrases are somewhat less versatile but it is helpful to remember that the omitted words must always be ones that need to be reinserted for them to make sense. If a proposed phrase makes sense both with and without the omitted word, then the phrase cannot be used safely. Phrases are best learned gradually in small groups of similar ones, by writing them in a context rather than copying lists or cramming, which is an attempt to memorize. You may cram facts for tomorrow’s geography or history exam, and then forget those facts afterwards, but you cannot cram for shorthand, as it is largely a manual skill, like running, swimming or playing the piano. It is pointless* to hesitate over a phrase, as the loss of time is greater than any saving that would have been made, and if the phrase does not come to mind instantly, or if there is any doubt as to its safety, then the words should be written separately and in full, and then investigated later.

* "pointless" Full strokes because the "-less" cannot be joined to "point" without loss of clarity




We have asked again and again for more information but the mystery just gets deeper and deeper.

The plane flew faster and faster, and rose higher and higher into the clear sky.

The clouds came down lower and lower, and the weather became less and less pleasant*.

As the dinosaur came nearer and nearer, the children became more and more nervous.

Mr and Mrs Smith have travelled north and south, and east and west, in the past few* years.

They were very generous over and over again*, paying over and above the amount requested.

* "pleasant" Helpful to insert the first vowel, as this is similar to "pleasing"

* Omission phrase "pas(t) few"

* "over and over again" The second "over" is reversed in order to make a good join


The man’s pace became quicker and quicker, and he ran here and there all over the street.

The tenants had to find ways and means to pay their rates and taxes on time.

As the high speed cars raced side by side around the track, time and space seem to have been conquered.

You must bear in mind that we have customers in all parts of the world who are waiting for this item.

The fact of the matter is that they have not borne in mind the peculiar circumstances of the case with which we are dealing.

For the purpose* of my report, I will need a complete list of the facts of the case.

* "purpose" You could also use P+P+Circle S in a phrase or as an intersection to represent this word, thus omitting the R


Writing a complete history of the world in one month is completely out of the question.*

The essay is more or less finished although I do have one or two pages to check.

Sooner or later he intends to go out and buy two or three loaves of bread and three or four apples.

Four or five people are absent but five or six new students have arrived.

They made six or seven comments on the plan and suggested seven or eight improvements.

There are usually eight or nine teachers and nine or ten children in the classroom.

* "question" Optional contraction


They have made their decision and right or wrong* it must be considered by the committee.

Up to the present we have not received any letters in connection with building regulations.

Up to the present time we have not received any communications in connection with the work.

I have received several telephone calls in connection with their proposals.

They have done the work exactly in accordance with our instructions and in accordance with the recommendations.

Your decisions must be made closely in accordance with the matter set out* in the report. (609 words)

* "right or wrong" The phrase "rightly or wrongly" must be written in full or you can use the intersected phrase given on www.long-live-pitmans-shorthand.org.uk/phrasing5-omission.htm shown under the headword "or"

* "set out" Halving to represent the T of "out", similarly "carried out"


Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Instructor Phrases Section 6

These sentences practise the phrases in Section 6 page 214 of the Instructor, Omissions: Logograms (short forms)


There is nothing so satisfying as a well-constructed phrase flowing effortlessly from the pen. With so many juicy and wonderful phrases available it can be tempting to write one of them before the speaker has said all the words of it. They may say something else or finish it differently. This is a shorthand trap for the unwary and even worse you can fail to hear accurately in the eagerness to use a particular phrase. The inaccurate words may still make sense so the error becomes invisible, and remains undetected and unnoticed in the transcript, subtly altering its meaning. The answer is to make yourself familiar with the variations that some groups of words can have. Attentiveness and careful* listening are necessary to avoid this type of error. Omission phrases bring benefits but also require diligence and a certain amount* of restraint from the shorthand writer*. A phrase in speaking is a group of words that belong together. In shorthand a phrase is two or more outlines joined together and the official name for this composite shorthand outline is “phraseogram”*.

* "careful" Optional contraction

* Omission phrase "certain (am)ount" This is a unique phrase and is similar to using "-nt" instead of the "-ment" ending order to make a join possible

* Omission phrase "short(hand) writer"

* "phraseogram" This outline (as shown in Instructor and dictionary) is barely able to show the R hook on the G stroke, by flattening the circle slightly upwards. It would be perfectly readable without any attempt at the hook. Similarly "phraseograph" and "phraseography".


One such popular phrase is “all over the world” but the speaker may say “all over our world / your world / their world / this world / this old world”. They may leave out a word and say “all over world politics, people are talking about this” or “all over, world leaders are talking about this.” That is eight variations already and the same can happen with “all round the world” versus “all around the world”. Although one might think it would be obvious that there is a different word in the phrase, it is amazingly* easy firstly to fail to notice it (especially if you are several words* behind the speaker) and secondly, to find one’s hand going its own sweet way and instantly writing what it has always written and finds easiest. Apart from the first one given, all these other phrases above need to be written fully to prevent error.

* "amazingly" Always insert the second vowel in "amaze" and "amuse" and all their derivatives

* "several words" In phrases, "-wd" can be used for "word" instead of the short form, wherever it joins better


We are at a loss to know why he will be leaving in a few days because as a rule he stays till the end of the month.

We did not* think for a moment that they would behave in such a manner as this at the conference last week*.

The directors of the company are to a great extent concerned about the matter of the financial shortfall.

I heard for the first time his interesting stories about his travels all over the world when he was younger.

We will consider the matter today notwithstanding the fact that there is little information on the subject.

We think that in the first instance we must look into the matter to get all the facts*.

* "we did not" Not written as one phrase, where it would look like "we do not". Inserting the I vowel in that phrase would make it the apostrophied version "we didn't".

* Omission phrase "las(t w)eek" "all the (f)acts"


We do not know what is the matter with them, and as a matter of fact we think they will not tell us.

We are not avoiding this subject, on the contrary we will* investigate it as a matter of course.

This report is just an expression of opinion and in consequence of this it is out of place on the agenda.

We have made* some payments in respect of* the costs and expect to receive confirmation in a short space of time.

Do you mean to say that there was an error on the part of the workers in relation to the building plans?

We have had constant trouble from first to last and so we have asked to meet them face to face.

* "we will" Note that the "will" is written in full after "we"

* "we have made" Ensure the Md stroke is thick, as "we met some payments" could make sense

* "in respect of" This phrase has to include the V hook, compare the similar phrase below "in respect to"


I received an email* in reply to my telephone call and it appears to me that the problem has been solved.

Having regard to the report on this matter, it appears to have been written without any knowledge of the facts.

In reference to your comments on the matter, it seems to me* that these things ought to have been done.

With regard to the issues that you have raised, it seems important* that they are discussed immediately.

With regard to the issues that you have raised, it is most important* that they are discussed immediately.

With reference to your complaint last month, we shall be glad to know whether this was resolved.

* "email" Insert the first vowel, as this is similar to "mail"

* "It seems to me" Helpful to insert the vowel, also compare with the two phrases in italics in the sentences below, both of which must have the vowel to differentiate


Thank you for your report, in reference to which I shall be communicating with the directors.

We shall be glad to hear* what has been done in respect to your requests.

They really ought to have known what to do with respect to this problem, and I regret to say nothing was done.

I regret to state that this matter has not been dealt with to our satisfaction.

We regret to state that they have not started the work which they ought to have done by now.

There have been* no changes of policy with relation to the safety issues raised.

* "we shall be glad to hear" Shown in Instructor, but this phrase is overlong and descending, and would be better split up

* Omission phrase "there (have) been" This makes a better join than using "have" with N hook for "been"


The following Instructor omission phrases are best used only when standing apart in the sentence and this pause is shown by setting it off with a comma:

At the present day, I have realised that we cannot afford this item at the present-day prices.

At the present time, I am working. I am working at present. I am working at the present.

By the way, I met Mr Black last week*. I wrote him a letter by way of explanation.

In the first place, I would like to give my reasons. In the second place, I will describe what happened.

In the third place, I will draw some conclusions. In the last place the committee will make a decision.

In the next place*, we shall be hearing a report from Mr Smith.

Tom finished in first place, Dick finished in second place, Harry finished in third place and in last place came Fred.

* Omission phrase "las(t w)eek"

* "in the next place" Note how the L hook is shown, by taking the circle further back and introducing an angle at the beginning of the P, like the outline "explain" and similar words


The following Instructor phrases (in italics) could be unsafe because it is not always clear whether the word “the” is omitted or not. I have used the phrase (underlined) for the version that does not omit anything, and split the other one up, to maintain maximum accuracy and clarity.

I took all the circumstances into account. I took all circumstances into account.

In the circumstances like you describe, we would have done the same thing.

In circumstances like you describe, we would have done the same thing. 
Instances* like that are unusual.

On the one hand we thought it was right but on the other hand we knew it would be difficult.

On one hand we thought it was right but on the other hand we knew it would be difficult.

He was disturbed in a great measure by these events. He was disturbed in great measure by these events.

It is with great pleasure* I declare this event open. (1110 words)

* "instances" Keep this clearly through the line, and insert the first vowel if necessary, as it is similar to "in circumstances"

* "great pleasure" Write the second word separately (on the line) if you think it might clash with the "great measure" phrase