• My regret resurfaces when I am at a press conference or an interview
Back in the 20th century, when it seems popular singers stayed on the scene a heck of a lot longer than they do these days, there was a crooner named Frank Sinatra.
Even if you were not born when he was alive and active as a singer, entertainer and actor, you may have heard one or two of his songs. If you are a habitue of certain Karaoke venues, it’s a cinch that you’ll have come across one of his biggest hits, ‘My Way’.
In the lyrics of that song, there’s a line I seem to hum to myself more and more with time: “Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention”.
The more I try to convince myself that the regrets of my last 50 years on this planet are “too few to mention”, the more I think I’m being economical with the truth.
For instance, one thing I regret often, especially when I am at a press conference or an interview at which I want to write down or even type every word the speaker is saying as they talk, is the fact that I looked down my nose at shorthand lessons when I had the opportunity to take them absolutely free of charge.
At the school I attended in Britain, shorthand and typing were offered as an examinable GCE subject, and because at the time I hadn’t decided to study journalism yet and was leaning more towards law, I could not see the point of taking the subject. After all, 17-year-old me thought to himself, I am hardly going to be a secretary or a court stenographer.
The proverbial “they” claim that hindsight is always 20/20 or perfectly clear, and in this case, looking back, I should have just put my petals in my pocket and taken typing and shorthand. It might have been quite cool to be a court stenographer or a secretary.
It would also have made my future job as a reporter much easier, as it would have made me much faster than my contemporaries. Instead, as it turned out, I had to make up my own shorthand, which only I could decipher, and like many journalists I worked with, I became a proficient and sufficiently fast “hunt-and-peck typist.”
Of course, had I foreseen the future, I might have been less stressed about not always having a chance to re-hear exactly what was said because I’d have predicted mobile phones that record and store voice — which, by the way, would have made me a very rich man — instead of the clunky tape recorder I occasionally lugged around with me on the beat as a reporter back in the day.
I know as far as regrets go, not having taken up shorthand when you had the chance may not be as big as wishing you had told someone you loved them before they died, or having supported a certifiable idiot and then seen them become your leader unto darkness and a place where you wish you were dead, but it’s my regret and I’m sticking to it.