This article practises words that you might wish to use in your diary, as listed in the Shorthand Perpetual Calendar, so that you can make brief entries on each month’s printed page. At least, that is the plan, whether it is an extensive description of your day, or just jottings to remind you of items and events coming up. When I was learning shorthand, as soon as we had finished the theory book, I did my best to use it for taking notes in all the other commercial lessons. This meant that I was consolidating what I had learned as quickly as possible* after learning it. One day we had a lesson on the different types of organisations and the word oligarchy came up. I made my best effort and the word made its way accurately into my longhand course notes. And of course I looked it up so that next time* I would get it right. I don’t think it ever came up again but all the other shorthand that I was writing certainly did pay off when I came to sit the various speed exams.
* Omission phrases "as quickly as poss(ible)" "ne(k)s(t) time"
Shorthand learning is best done in manageable amounts every day, more on some days and perhaps less on others, depending* on your other activities and time available. It is like exercising, gaining weight, losing* weight, filling up a bath, using up the fuel in a tank, waiting for the bread to rise, the cake* to cook, the glue to set or the paint to dry, watching ice melt or a kettle boil, waiting for Christmas morning to come, or the Christmas snow to settle thickly enough to make a snowman. The minutes and hours pass, the days slip by and before you know it, “crunch time” is here, the speed exam, the job interview requiring a shorthand certificate, or the long-awaited opportunity to use the shorthand to make life easier or more efficient. Or it might just be the end of an opportunity and spare time* for serious study, which some are glad they did and others wishing they had applied themselves to in a more focussed* manner. Of course, you are the former, as you are reading this blog shorthand, ever watchful for new outlines and phrases.
* "depending" Keep the Ing its correct length, so it does not look like a halved N = "dependent/dependant"
* "losing" The outline for "lose" has upward L
* Insert vowels to differentiate "cake" "cookie"
* Halving used for the T "sparet-ime"
* Insert first vowel to help differentiate "focussed" "fixed"
Practice sentences are written, passages read from your comfortable armchair, short bursts of almost impossible dictation are attempted from the newsreader. Diary entries are made and read back correctly later on, telephone messages are scribbled on the pad, and shopping lists compiled and read back in the shop without the slightest qualm. The shorthand has established itself in your mind simply by being used for the real necessities of life, and eventually flows out of the pen or pencil on command, just like your longhand already does. Like the birds eating the crumbs from the lawn, shorthand prefers to get on with its job undisturbed, while you are busy thinking about something else*. Even if you are annoyed with yourself at apparent slow progress, this does mean that you are still with the game and have not given up. The following paragraphs are fictional and use all the diary words in the Perpetual Calendar list.
* "else " on its own is written upwards
This is a schedule for a typical 7-day period. On Monday morning I go to the office to get my assignments for the rest of the week. On Tuesday I am generally with clients all day and working out at the gym in the evening. Every Wednesday I meet our suppliers and other contacts to discuss and make all the arrangements. Thursdays I travel to head office which is a long journey on the motorway. On Friday I return to the office to catch up on the paperwork. Saturday is spent shopping and taking the children to their clubs and activities. Sundays are full of activities as well, starting with a dawn exercise run, followed by music practice, then a church service, and a special Sunday lunch with grandmother and grandfather, or other relatives. On Sunday afternoon* we often visit the sports club and during Sunday evening* I check over my diary for the coming week and write in all the reminders that I shall need.
* Omission phrases "Sunday af(ter)noon" "Sunday eve(en)ing" both using the hook for the F/V instead of stroke. Ensure the final N hook is very clear, otherwise the two would be similar.
Last year was quite an interesting one for us. In January we enjoyed the sales, and escaped the cold by going on a short winter holiday break somewhere warmer. February was when the pipes burst and we had to have the plumber in. In March we bought a new car and in April we spent Easter down on the coast enjoying some unusually* warm spring weather. During May we had a wedding to attend and in June we had to go to a funeral. During the hot summer weather of July we spent two weeks* on vacation on the West Coast. In August we celebrated the college exam passes of our son and daughter. In September we had a late autumn or fall holiday, before our youngest child started pre-school. October brought the good news of promotion* at work. November was quite eventful with various important meetings and conferences around the country. In December we enjoyed an extended break over the Christmas period and finally saw in the New Year with our family in the Highlands.
Cap signs are not necessary for days of the week or months, but may be helpful with November, as that contraction is the same as "never". Vowel in "May" helps with reading back.
* "unusually" The -ly is included in the basic short form, but writing the stroke L is essential here, as both "unusual" and "unusually" could make sense. You could join the L stroke, but this makes a less readable outline (similar to "casually")
* Omission phrase "two wee(k)s"
* Helpful to write in the vowel, as "permission" looks the same
Monday: Today has been quite busy. I drove to the airport to pick up my mother and father after their night-time flight and take them to their apartment. Then I had an appointment at the dentist for a routine dental check-up and on the way I bought a card for my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary. I made arrangements for the florist to deliver a bouquet of spring flowers to their house and I arranged to meet my nephew and niece at three in the afternoon at the restaurant, where we had organised a surprise celebration for them. Approximately ten* of us attended and Auntie Mary and Uncle Jo were very pleased with the surprise party and their special cards and present.
* Always insert vowel signs in "ten/th" and "eighteen/th"
Tuesday: First thing I booked an appointment at the hairdresser and then went to the bank to obtain a statement of my account. I drove to the doctor’s surgery to pick up my grandmother and then to the post office* to pick up a parcel for my grandfather. After her examination by the duty nurse, Grandma was happy to get back home in time for a visit by her brother. Grandad was delighted with the item that had been posted to him by his sister. I took my car to the garage for its annual service. I ordered a taxi so that the whole family could go shopping downtown at the mall. My cousin telephoned me but I missed the call and so she had to text me the message. She said she had texted me yesterday but I did not receive it.
* "post office" omits the lightly sounded T
Wednesday: My sister arrived with her new baby, after their hospital appointment and visit to the nursery. She has had many visitors now that she is a new mum and her husband is a new dad. I had ordered a special gift online and the driver had emailed me with confirmation of today’s delivery time. I had made the payment and my order was on its way. During the morning there was an urgent knock at the door, and the package was handed over. After that, we telephoned for a table at the restaurant and we drove there through the heavy traffic that evening. They had made our reservation and had remembered* to put out the special flowers on our table. We sat down at our reserved table and reminded ourselves of the last time* we were here, looking forward* to this celebration. We paid for our meal, and on the way home stopped off to post some letters. Then I remembered* I should have posted the enquiry form so I made a note on my phone in order to* remind myself to do it tomorrow.
* Short dash through the last stroke of a contraction to indicate past tense
* Omission phrases "las(t) time" "looking fo(r)ward" "in ord(er to)"
Thursday: I spent most of the day in the office. In the morning I checked all the new enquiries and other mail, and in the afternoon I interviewed some new staff. One applicant had phoned in to say he could not attend his interview, and another rang to say she would be late due to her journey on the trains being delayed. After that I sent lots of emails* and fortunately met the deadline for finishing my report. The phone seemed to ring constantly. On the way home I stopped at the service station to fill up the car and get some groceries, and then picked up the kids from school. Thursday evening* I helped the children organise their notes for their* homework which they had to hand in to their teacher* tomorrow. We had soon finished the homework, which the tutors* said had to be ready by the deadline of early Friday afternoon*.
* Always insert the first vowel in "email/ed" to differentiate from "mail/ed"
* "Thurdsay evening" "Friday afternoon" see para 4
* "for their" uses both outlines, "if there" can use doubling
* Always insert the diphthong in "tutors" as it is similar to "teachers". The singular "tutor" is doubled, with the U diphthong joined on.
Friday: As soon as I arrived, I received a message asking me to meet Mr Black in reception in order to* finish our discussions on the forthcoming trip, and to confirm all the details for the flights and transport. The manager’s car had been serviced and someone had to collect it from the garage by the church, return it to our premises and leave it in the reserved parking space. I decided to send out the new employee Miss Brown and she collected it, paid the bill on the company visa card and soon returned. Later on I had to organise a home visit to meet a client called Mrs White. I soon found the house and she was happy to hear all the details of the trip we had organised and booked. I asked her to confirm her details and send them to us in a letter so that we could* check them against our records. I requested that she pay the amount due as soon as possible*, as we have to book the flights well in advance.
* Omission phrases "in ord(er to)" "as soon as poss(ible)"
* Avoid phrasing "could, might, note" to prevent misreading as "can, may, know"
Saturday: Today is my birthday and I have booked some places at this evening’s concert. I confirmed the booking by email* and they emailed* me back with the ticket codes. I prefer to buy tickets online so that I can request a particular seat. I spent some hours catching up on writing letters to friends. Some of them* wrote weeks ago and it has taken some time* to finish my replies and get them mailed. In the afternoon I delivered some clothes to the dry cleaners and heard about Mr Green who is going to celebrate his eightieth* birthday next week*. We are going to arrange to have some flowers and chocolates delivered to him and see if we can manage to visit him one day in the week. Later on I made a start on sorting my home office paperwork. By the time I had it sorted, the daylight was almost gone and daytime became night all too soon.
* Always insert the first vowel in "email/ed"
* Omission phrase "some (of) them" The phrase "some other" doubles the M
* Halving to represent the T "sumt-time"
* "eightieth" Diphone sign essential, as otherwise it would look like "eighth"
* Omission phrase "ne(k)s (w)eek"
Sunday: Today has been a very fine day and after all the usual Sunday morning activities, we were ready to start on some of the easier repairs around the house. We fetched the tools and expected* to be finished quite soon. Neither of us was an expert at Do It Yourself but we had taken some advice, after enquiring online about it, and so there was no delay to the start of the work. We met few difficulties, got on with it and were done in next to no time. It had taken only about an hour. After that, we visited some friends and went for a walk in the park*. We walked about two miles and were soon looking forward* to getting back indoors. I wanted to ask my friends home for a meal but we found the buses were cancelled. I did not want to cancel our dinner, so we walked to the town centre to find a taxi to take us home. Very soon we were back home enjoying a lovely meal.
* Short dash through the last stroke of a contraction to indicate past tense
* "looking forward" If there is space, phrase this as in para 8
By bedtime I was ready to fill in my diary for the day. If I hadn’t learned shorthand, I am sure I would not have been able to record all the details so quickly and noted all the things I needed reminding of. It was all done very rapidly, with nothing left out, and so I turned off the light and slid down under the blankets for a good night’s rest. (2062 words)