One of my jobs this week was to source an ink pen for a lefthanded granddaughter. It had to be a guaranteed non-leaking model, nothing requiring bottles of ink or messy cartridges, because she’s only eight years old. I did manage to find something suitable but the search brought back some negative memories.
Given that there is no single gene responsible for handedness and given that the global incidence of left-handedness is around 12% of the population, with significantly more males than females, we have an overload of girlie lefthanders in our family. My granny was a lefter, although she had it beaten out of her by Edwardian teachers. My daughters-in-law are both lefthanded, as are 50 percent of my grandchildren, 75 percent of my granddaughters. And then there’s me.
By the time I was old enough to pick up a pen, the view that left-handedness was a vile aberration had gone out of fashion, but that is not to say I didn’t face difficulties. My manual skills were poor and my handwriting was a horrible, smudged and blobby mess that refused to stay on a horizontal line. At home I was called Awkward Annie. Also Corky and Caggy. I had to teach myself to knit. I had to grow up, wise up and track down a lefthanded potato peeler for myself. I’m still waiting to find someone to teach me to crochet.
My granddaughters should have an easier time of it. Pens and scissors and can openers aren’t hard to find these days. You can buy lefthanded musical instruments too, although most lefthanders don’t bother, particularly if they’re learning a string instrument. To be more naturally dextrous, haha, with your left hand, can be an advantage when it comes to tricky fingering.
Yes, there seems to be a price to pay healthwise: reduced life expectancy, greater susceptibility to cardio-vascular disease, Parkinsonism, Multiple Sclerosis, psychoses and mood disorders. Sitting next to a righthander at dinner can present elbow problems too. You have to think it through. But on the plus side, our brains are less lateralised so we have a better chance of rehabilitation after a non-fatal stroke. We’re apparently also better equipped for something called divergent thinking. Outside the box, off the wall, blue sky, to utter but three expressions beloved of managers. Or, as we lefthanders might say, just regular, creative thinking.
Anyway, I found a pen made by a company called Manuscript. If it’s any good I might place a bulk order.
Likely there are now two questions on your lips. 1. When is Laurie Graham going to get snapped up by a savvy and discerning publisher? and 2. Why is there a picture of a kangaroo on this blog post.
Answers: 1, Dunno.
2, Kangaroos are predominantly southpaws. I have no idea why, but then, neither does anyone else.