IT is strange to think that a week ago I was completely unacquainted with otto and jeff and tessa. Even kate and the fat foal were strangers to me. Nor had I so much as heard of ''sad ada'' who ''sold old dolls'' and ''ella'' who ''also sells old easels.'' A week ago my world was smaller and less eventful. A week ago I hadn't started on my teach-yourself-typing course.
I recently read somewhere that if you have enough whatever-it-takes to learn to drive a car, you also have sufficient of the same to learn to type. The basic difference seems to be that the second does not, generally speaking, endanger pedestrians: The social pressures toward correct procedure simply do not exert themelves with equal force for operators of Adlers and Volkswagens.
Sex discrimination is also involved: In Britain, at least, typing is a womanly accomplishment no less than knitting. Why this should be is mysterious. But it militates, as I have come to see over 20-odd years of two-finger hit-and-miss, against the male who also happens to write things.
Mind you - I am not, I believe, in the least alone in my self-esteem as an index-finger whiz kid. It's crazy, of course, but one does become self-persuaded that one's personal technique, evolved by necessity into an acrobatic finesse, is actually as agile and effective as any trained secretary's. And who wants to forgo individuality? Submit to a dull routine? Type just the same as everyone else in the world?
But - at least - the facts must be faced. One does have more than a single digit to each hand. In not typing properly, one does miss a lot - literally. And this new electronic typewriter I've got is clearly not for amateurs. It types by anticipation. It sees that finger coming and leaps eagerly into action, coming up with delicious but editorially unacceptable words like ''mofsot'' instead of misfit, and ''omexxuratty'' instead of inaccuracy. This will no longer do. Before high-technological advance finally renders fingers redundant, the ceision must be token . . . the decision must be taken. Typing must be learned properly. Pas-de-deux must be replaced by pas-de-huits-avec-two-thumbs.
I confess to being surprised. Typing not only is fun to learn but is actually absorbing. Of course it helps to have someone as ingenious as Brenda Rowe as a tutor. She it is who has concocted the Penguin ''Type It Yourself Manual'' that I picked off a bookshop shelf the other day. She it is who has invented otto and jeff and tessa, kate and the fat foal: you can type them all without looking and with less than half the alphabet under your belt. And she it is who encourages you with remarks like ''If you can type the above exercise with no faults, you will have little trouble learning all the other letters'' or ''You will soon be able to type anything without hesitation.''
Peeking ahead, I see that she even says (at the end of ''Unit 21 the letter c''), ''You're marvelous!'' Well - I'm not marvelous yet; but what a thing to look forward to.
The whole process is a little like a return to childhood. Suddenly your vocabulary shrinks. Sentences are basic. You have a paint box with only primary colors in it. But the little world of people and happenings which gradually emerges as you progress is immensely entertaining. What achievement there will be, at Unit 18, when you can tell the world that ''Donald has sent a frank letter to Dennis'' or, at Unit 20, to triumphantly reveal that ''Ursula was nurtured on rusks.'' Arriving at the letter ''w'' promises even greater riches. For this, Ms. Rowe informs me, I will use my wedding-ring finger! And once ''w'' is mastered, one can go into literary criticism:Thornton Wilder was a writer.
So was Shaw.m
What won't I be able to do when I reach Unit 52 or 53? By then the world of words and phrases will be my oyster. A consecutive narrative, dialogue, drama, will issue unremittingly from the keys. And all without looking. . . .
Dawn. Otto told Kate a joke. ''That's no lady,'' said he, ''that's my wife.'' She quietly queried the sequel to the question. ''That's not a query or a question,'' she said, ''the quantity surveyer requested quality equipment for the quarterly quota!''
Changing the subject, Ella told Della: ''Tod tested a set of loose seeds.'' (Flo fell off a sofa.)
Otto interrupted. ''Betty bought best butter for Belinda,'' he barked, ''and Brian played the bold bassoon in Bootle Brass Band.''
Jake faked safe flak. ''Tell Ethel,'' he fooled, ''to sell the ladles to Ed.'' He then told a lot more jokes to Otto, and Ella fell off the shed.
Not only do the Vincents live in Victoria Avenue, but Veronica had vowed vivaciously to view the Victorian villa that evening. From the Victorian villa on Victoria Avenue the view over the valley was very vivid. Its value was vigorously evident to Valerie (and Veronica), both voracious civil servants.
A zealous New Zealander, zigzagging in his zoot suit, also gazed dazzled at the azure ozone. Lazy hazel was amazed. Adele does less. Les does less. Jaded ada does less. Six extra oxen vex sixty foxes by using the next exit to catch the Exeter express. . . .
What could Christopher more crediby crave for creative craftsmanship?