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a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist – We are all typists


I join Friends Provident & Century Group in Manchester as a 16-year old school leaver.

They introduce me to the ladies in the typing pool (why was it called a pool?).

On my desk I have a dictation machine the size of a video player.

I dictate letters into a huge hand-held microphone and take a cassette tape into the typing pool with a pile of files.

The letters come back the next day, in duplicate, with a sheet of carbon paper – I make changes, they go back.

The next day they return with the changes tippex-ed and altered.

The letters are posted.


I join Hambro Life Assurance as a sales representative (broker consultant).

I carry a hand-sized dictation machine wherever I go and dictate onto smaller tapes.

I arrive in my Central Manchester office at 07:00 every morning and spend 90-minutes reading, correcting and dictating letters.

I drive around the North West visiting my clients.

I return to the office at 16:30 to read, correct and dictate my letters.

The alterations go back and are ready for me to sign off when I arrive the next morning.

I share a p.a. with 5 other consultants.


I’m running my own fee-based financial planning business.

I employ a full-time p.a.

I still dictate letters into a smaller hand-held dictation machine with micro-cassettes and mini-discs.

My p.a. types the letters and I correct and revise them – there’s no carbon paper any more.


I type letters and emails on my laptop.


I type on my devices.

I type every day.

I type everything.

I’m a typist.

I type. You type. We type.

There are no typing pools.


“These “letters” are the personal observations of me, Chris Barrow and are not intended to reflect the views of 7connections and its team members, they just give me permission to publish here on the basis that they can keep an eye on me, a bit like a mad relative at a wedding reception. I’m likely to upset the sensitive and outrage the sensible – if you fall into either of those camps then read at your peril.”

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