Friday, 12 June 2009

Horrible Handwriting

You know, if I could build a time machine and change history in some way, I am sorry to say I wouldn’t do anything selfless for humanity. Examples where my input could help include:

• Making sure Archduke Ferdinand avoided Sarajevo in the summer of 1914
• Encouraging people to wash during the Plague of 1666
• Suggesting King Harold stand a meter or two to the left of right when that Norman arrow was enroute to his eyeball in the Battle of Hastings of 1066.

None of these would be on my “to do” list. In fact, I would be horribly selfish aiding only myself and those barmy few who need to read 15th C notarial documents. I would take aside all the notaries of Europe and say; “Look, for crying out loud. PLEASE write properly. Your 14th C forebears managed it with no worries and - trust me - your 16th C successors will also revel in their clarity of script. Although a significant proportion of your clients are illiterate, there is no excuse for such shoddy handwriting. In centuries to come, scholars (i.e. me) will spend hours agonising over whether the daughter of Elena of Zadar had been taken and possibly assaulted by Francesco and Rupert or if it was in fact a perfectly fair and respectable employment contract, offering Elena’s daughter employment and a roof over her head. Unfortunately, your handwriting is SO CRAP that the key verb looks like nothing more than the scratchings of a Neanderthal, only recently evolved from whatever ape came before, who thought the combination of a stick and some sand might be an amusing way to pass half an hour. Gah.”

Thus I hope to save the world (of mad archival-based types) from migraines, poor eyesight and disturbing interpretations primary sources.

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