I was writing yesterday’s Dollop backstage at Canmore Festival. While I was writing, a woman came up to me and enthusiastically enquired about how I am managing to use my laptop, given that I am blind. I explained to her that there is a voice that is telling me what’s on the screen. “Great, that’s great,” she excitedly replied, “so does it tell you what to type and then you type it?” I assumed she was joking, but when I laughed, she said, “no, I’m serious, is that not how it works?”
If the voice was telling me what to type, then why would I need to type it? Presumably if the voice knows what I should be typing, then it could surely just put that text on the screen itself? If the computer did tell me what to type and all I had to do was just follow its instructions then it would certainly make writing these Dollops a lot easier. But no, I have to do all the thinking and typing, and the computer merely reads it back to me.
She seemed impressed by the fact that I could type without the screen being on, and she asked me how I knew where the keys were. I explained that I could touch type and therefore didn’t need to be able to see the keyboard, but she didn’t seem to believe me. She asked me to prove it, which involved me facing the other way while she shouted out letters which I then had to press. She seemed delighted by the fact that I got every letter spot on, and she applauded and whooped, as if I was an illusionist pulling off some impressive trick, rather than simply someone who was accurately hitting letters on a keyboard without looking, which in fairness is something that secretaries have been doing for years.
She called a couple of her friends over to take a look. I was beginning to feel a bit embarrassed, given that I was now gaining more of an audience to demonstrate something that, in my opinion, wasn’t at all impressive. Her friends didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic by my ability to accurately hit letters on a keyboard, but did a good job of pretending that they were. I don’t know who they thought they were humouring, me or their friend. She continued to shout out letters, and I continued to press them.
“You have a go?” she said to one of her friends, “shout out a letter, and boy, he’ll get it.” I’m not sure what her thought process was here. Was she getting her friends to shout out letters because she was worried that they might think that the whole thing had been planned in advance, and that me and her had agreed on a sequence of keyboard presses, rather than me actually knowing the letters I was pressing. Maybe she’d misunderstood her friends’ lack of enthusiasm to be due to scepticism about my authenticity. Her friends half-heartedly said some letters, and I typed said letter, until eventually her friends just toddled off.
The woman asked me what I was writing. I lied and said I was doing some boring accounting stuff. After all, I didn’t want her knowing about this blog, as I knew I’d probably end up writing about this incident, and wanted to avoid her reading it, in case she took um bridge with my portrayal of her, even though I think I’ve actually been quite nice and have been accurate in the retelling.
When I’d said, “boring accounting stuff,” I assumed that this would dampen her interest, but I should have realised that if this woman could get excited by a man pressing letters accurately on a keyboard, then maybe the mention of “boring accounting stuff” might also tickle her fancy.
“Can I have a look?” she said, with an unsettling level of excitement in her voice.
Not having any boring accounting stuff on my computer, I would either have to make an excuse about having to leave, or explain about the blog. Ideally, I needed to stay back stage, as it was reaching the end of the day in the UK, meaning that I needed to quickly finish writing the blog and upload it using the backstage WIFI. So I pretended that I’d now just moved on from boring accounting stuff in order to upload my daily blog, which I needed to do in the next fifteen minutes before midnight UK time. But she didn’t take the hint.
“Can I see it?” she said, ramping up the excitement levels even further. She’d been pretty excited before about looking at boring accounting stuff, and now she was nearly orgasmic at the thought of looking at a blog. I needed to get this blog uploaded now, as it was a few minutes to midnight in the UK and we had a gig in half an hour, so I felt I had no choice but to try and hurry this conversation along. So I gave her my website address. She very enthusiastically declared that she would definitely give it a read. Hopefully she just read yesterday’s blog post, and doesn’t come back to check out today’s. But just in case you are reading this: thanks, but you are bloody weird. By the way, that’s not me saying this, that’s my computer telling me to type it. Obviously, I think you are perfectly sane and normal, but I have no choice but to type what this damn computer voice tells me to type.