In which I explain the chocolate stains on the keyboard.

When I humblebrag about my typing world record, people frequently ask certain questions. I decided it would be a good idea to produce a list of these. I have called it 'Answers to Questions Usually Asked by People I Sometimes Speak to'. That's quite a mouthful, but fortunately, it can be abbreviated to A.Q.U.A.P.I.S.S.. I don't really use acronyms myself as – I don't know if you've heard – I am a quite fast typist.

Anyway, I've typed them all out below so you can stop asking me questions now. If you do, I will politely ask you to look at all the A.Q.U.A.P.I.S.S. on my weblog. There's no need to thank me, it didn't take long; I am quite fast at typing. Did you know I have a world record for typing quickly, did I mention that?

Joel! Are you the fastest typist in the world?

Probably not, but according to Guinness World Records, I'm the fastest person ever to type five sentences. It took 18.33s.

How did you manage that?

Spots v Stripes

I used a number of my fingers. It was part of a competition held by Cadbury in March 2011. Having taken on the onerous responsibility of ‘official snack provider’ to the 2012 Olympic games, they ran a campaign called 'Spots v Stripes', encouraging the snack-buying public to be more active. Wanting to get involved, I plumped for the online typing challenge. I sat down at my computer and pictured the buff new typist's body I was about to earn myself. I also imagined all the guilt-free chocolate I would be able to buy after burning so many calories at keyboardsports: Cadbury Mars Bars, Cadbury Snickers, Cadbury Maltesers, Cadbury Aeros, Cadbury Yorkies and more.

What did you have to type?

The five sentences were displayed in a random order so you couldn’t just train a woodpecker to do it for you:

  • A long long time ago there was a tiger and a cheetah.
  • The cheetah was by far the quicker of the two.
  • Thus the Spots gained an advantage over their rivals.
  • Fast forward a few hundred years to the 1950s.
  • The latest craze is for "go faster" stripes down the side of your car.

Inspired stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. Having typed them about 100 times, these sentences are now etched onto my subconscious like so many underwhelming bedtime stories.

What's that in words per minute?

177 words per minute, or 897 keys per minute. That's almost 15 key presses per second.

How does that compare to the pecking frequency of the great spotted woodpecker?

Thanks for bringing that up. I get asked this a lot. The great spotted woodpecker manages 20 pecks per second, making it approximately 33% better than me at life.

Doesn't that make you feel inadequate?

Listen. That guy has had an evolutionary headstart, okay? The deceleration his brain undergoes when pecking... my brain would turn to mush if subjected to even 10% of that. I can't compete. I don't even have my own 1940s cartoon series. Just leave it.

Woody aside, there are plenty of faster human typists. One of them e-mails me occasionally to remind me of this. What he has to remember, though, is that he doesn't have an actual world record for typing 54 predetermined words of nonsense about the history of two wallpaper patterns. So he can suck it.

Wouldn't some kind of official have to be present for it to be a proper record?

Yes, that's what I thought. When I entered the competition I didn't realise there was even a record up for grabs. I still didn't believe it when the chap from G.W.R. turned up at my door with Cadbury's PR and a local photographer in tow.

"You must be very proud," G.W.R. Rich told my father unironically, and proceeded to congratulate me on my achievement with levels of false sincerity worthy of an X-Factor presenting gig. How could I not believe it after that? When you see his yellow tie you will believe it too.

What's your secret? Tell me your secret!

I will tell you. My left arm is freakishly oversized and holds within it a frightening, almost uncontrollable keyboarding power.

Fish eye lens. Bastard

I mean, that's not how I remember it, but the camera never lies. I trust that the local photographer and his fish eye lens captured the truth. Yes.

Have you considered becoming a professional keyboardier? I bet it pays well.

Yeah, no, ‘professional keyboardier’ isn’t a thing. I could try subtitling or court reporting, but my tendency to accidentally type 'wank' instead of 'want' suggests it'd be pretty short-lived. No matter, I would rather stay strictly amateur in anticipation of typing being made an Olympic sport.

What did it say in the newspaper?

I called the newspaper and left a voicemail providing a quote for the article. Here's the article.

Embarrassing local news item

That's not the quote I gave them. I have no idea why they didn't use the quote I gave them:

I hope anyone who remembers me from high school will accept that this evidence finally puts to rest all the rumours about my fingering technique.

If you have any more questions, ask me on Twitter and I'll be delighted to extend my A.Q.U.A.P.I.S.S. for you. Thanks!


Joel Overton

Joel Overton is a holistic web development therapist. If you know what that means, he asks that you let him know, quickly please.