Is the pen mightier than the recorder?

While catching up on some of the old media gossip in Scotland recently, I stumbled across this debate about shorthand on

In it Mike Boyle, course co-ordinator of HND Practical Journalism and NCTJ Journalism at Cardonald College, Glasgow, extols the virtues of the art of shorthand after it was dropped as an option from the BA Journalism and Creative Writing degree at Strathclyde University.

I couldn’t help but wade in and you’ll see my tuppence worth as well as a few others at the bottom of the article. (I particularly like Dorothy-Grace Elder’s frisking anecdote in a Russian jail.)

When I left Napier University, shorthand was probably the only useful skill I had learned (other than a little bit of media law) and the rest I learned on the job – and very quickly at that.

I’m actually lucky I passed it to be honest because my attendance record at the shorthand classes with the Tartan Temptress June Stobie (she had a rather fetching tartan jacket) was less than exemplary.

It was first thing on a Thursday morning you see and Wednesday afternoon’s was when the university football team’s played followed by the obligatory night out.

My old mucker and flatmate Gordon Smart, now flying high on media power lists across the globe as The Sun’s Bizarre editor, also ran a Wednesday club night, Shark, at one our favoured evening retreats where the football team would generally drink the night and much of the morning away.

The result was, more often than not, a Thursday morning hangover and a big cross (isn’t that Teeline shorthand for accident?) next to the names Connor and Smart on June’s attendance sheet.

But we both passed and I’m so grateful to June for beating it into us. I couldn’t have got through those employment tribunals and Haddington Sheriff Court trials without it.

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