Wednesday, 13 August 2008


“If Being Left Handed Is Wrong,
I Don't Want To Be Right!” – Anonymous

August 13th is International Left-Handers’ Day. This was an initiative of the Left-Handers’ Club which was formed in 1990 aiming to keep its members in touch with the left-handers’ world, make their views known to manufacturers and others, provide a help and advice line, to promote research into left-handedness and development of new left-handed items. Since its formation the Club has gone from strength to strength with members all over the world and is highly regarded as the foremost pressure group and advice centre on all aspects of left-handedness. On 13th August 1992 the Club launched International Left-Handers Day, an annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed.

This event is now celebrated worldwide, and many events are organised to mark the day including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide "Lefty Zones" where left-handers’ creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, whilst right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment! These events have contributed more than anything else to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of our needs by the right-handed majority - although there is still a long way to go!

If you are left-handed then you are in very good company. Throughout history left-handers have excelled as leaders, sportsmen, artists, musicians and in many other fields. For example, here are a few famous lefties: Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rubens, Dufy, Escher, Fred Astaire, Pierce Brosnan, Robert De Niro, Rock Hudson, Faye Dunaway, Demi Moore, Oprah Winfrey, Lewis Carroll, James Michener, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, HG Wells, Drew Carey, Harpo Marx, Jean-Paul Gaultier, CPE Bach, Enrico Caruso, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Bob Dylan, Natalie Cole, Annie Lennox, Cole Porter, Paul Simon, Tiny Tim, Uri Geller, Goethe, Tim Allen, Jeremy Beadle, Winton Marsalis, George Michael, Niccolo Paganini, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Sting, Schumann, Ravel, Beethoven, Glenn Gould, etc, etc…

The left hemisphere of the brain where the RIGHT hand receives its instructions controls Speech, Language, Writing, Logic, Mathematics, Science - this is the linear thinking mode. The right hemisphere giving instructions to the LEFT hand, controls Music, Art, Creativity, Perception, Emotions, Genius, this is the holistic thinking mode. So I guess you can say left-handed people are in their right mind!

No-one has come up with a definitive reason for WHY some people are left-handed, but about 13% of the population around the world are, and it is thought to be genetic - it definitely runs in families. Researchers have recently located a gene they believe "makes it possible to have a left-handed child " so if you have that gene, one or more of your children may be left-handed, whereas without it, you will only have right-handers. Stuttering and dyslexia occur more often in left-handers (particularly if they are forced to change their writing hand as a child, like King of England George VI).

So in honour of the oft forgotten and maligned brethren of the left handed persuasion, I have composed this little ditty especially for today!

Ode to the Left Handed

Oh, much maligned appendage,
Dubbed of unkind aspect, sinister.
Amongst all of the limbs assemblage,
The one that’s said to be the evil minister.

Oh, you dejected and despiséd member,
You are in so many of our species dominant!
But always we should all remember,
In such people there is talent prominent.

Left handers are in their mind so right,
And even if they are sinistrally inclined,
Sinister not, and much is their might;
(Even if non-dexterity is so maligned).

Rejoice you band of molly-dookers,
Today is your day of celebration;
Fire up your nifty left-hand cookers
And concoct a cake of sinistral elation.

Enjoy your own peculiar modality,
Display without fear your laterality.
Left handedness is to be lauded, fêted,
Your gift from providence no longer hated.

However, it’s not all art and creativity, fun and games being left-handed - right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people…

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