Anfield Commercial College

An impressive red-brick building, there in Belmont Road
Was where I learnt the skills
I’d need, to live and pay the bills.
No-one ever warned me it was different from my schools,
Shorthand pads instead of books, a different set of rules.

Typewriters, heavy L.C. Smiths, whose keyboards had a cover,
So you couldn’t see your hands,
The letters or the ampus ands.
The blackboard had a diagram - the layout of the keys.
In certain rhythm we would type our A S D F Gs

Strength it took to press the keys, then return the carriage
To start again or carry on.
The shiftkey was the heavy one.
Gradually ‘The quick Brown Fox …..’ became oh, so much better
Because the thumb and fingers used, and practised, every letter.

This Pitman’s shorthand – complex stokes, of pencil thick and thin.
We wrote above and on the line,
With shortforms - I remember mine …
All dreamed up as new editions, while my panicked little mind
Wrote the text the teacher read, from many sentences behind.

My language bore no fears for me, as I watched the others struggle.
English was a dream to learn,
From a lady, Mrs Culhearn,
In whose debt I’ll always be, such sterling lessons always giving –
Forced much knowledge into me; showed me how to earn my living.

Mr Churchward taught us Commerce and also our Economics.
He had the most disarming ploy,
My confidence he’d near destroy,
He’d walk about in our exam, whether for me or all our sakes,
With a smile upon his face, he’d hum the song ‘We Make Mistakes’.

The headmaster was Mr Gorrie who kept a watchful eye on all.
Responsible for my Reports,
Then my parents’ sharp retorts
“Explain to us if you don’t mind, what it means here in this letter
Appended to your school report ‘If she tried she could do better.’ ”?

'For Polly's Grandma'

By Jean Neale