Today I did a kind of cleaning I’ve never done before: I cleaned the keys of my computer keyboard. Not where crumbs have landed in between them – the keys themselves. Some of them were dirty, you see, with a sort of browny-grey film on them. The keys I use all the time were white, the ones I use occasionally had a white middle and dirty edges, and the ones I never use were just dirty all over.
It’s annoyed me for a while but today I hit on the solution. I took a rubber to the keyboard and rubbed out all the dirt. Now it’s sparkling clean and all the keys are white. But while I was erasing the filth, it occurred to me that in its dirty state I effectively had a keyboard-sized infographic showing which keys I use and which I don’t. For some reason, the square brackets were completely filthy, even though I’m sure I use them sometimes, while the weird § key had a clean spot, even though I can’t remember ever having used it before typing this sentence. Comma was dirtier than full stop. Q was cleaner than Z.
Even weirder, the numbers got gradually dirtier from left to right, so 1 was clean while 9 was pretty mucky.
It’s nice to have a clean keyboard again but I feel like I’ve lost a historical record of the letters I type and the keys I don’t need. A little bit of history wiped away.