August 13 is International Left Handed Day and because I am one of the 10 per cent of people who are left handed, a percentage that has remained largely unchanged for many thousands of years, I take more than a passing interest in its annual observance.
Males are slightly more likely to be left-handed than females and left-handers are generally more capable of using their right hand for tasks than right-handers are using their left hand (cos right handers are soft). I did not previously know that your chances of being born left-handed can increase with your parent’s left-handedness. One study found if you have no lefty parents (that’s me) the chances are less than 5%, father lefty, mother righty: about 20%, mother lefty, father righty: about 25%, both lefty parents: about 45%.
Those who join me as part of this exclusive club include Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Jerry Seinfield, Our Nic Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Lady Gaga, Leonardo Da Vinci, Drew Barrymore, worryingly Tom Cruise, more worryingly Justin Beiber the late great David Bowie, Prince William, Neil Armstrong, Marie Curie, Henry Ford, Aristotle and the other great philosopher Oprah Winfrey. I figure I am in fancy company.
In The Simpsons, character Ned Flanders set up a shop to recognise the plight of left-handed people. Named “The Leftorium”, it specialised in left-handed products. And thank goodness for the light it shone because from scissors to kitchen utensils, from lecture theatre desks to spiral notebooks, lefties face a life of smudged ink and a world that is slightly back to front.
They also face a world of left handed facts – some of them quite amusing and some of the quite discriminatory. A great source of lefty trivia is leftys.com.au. My top picks:
- Women’s clothes button up on the opposite side to men’s clothing because in Victorian times, English upper class ladies were dressed by right-handed maids.
- Five out of the last seven US presidents write with their left-hand– Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama.
- Throwing salt over the left shoulder is said to ward off evil spirits.
- Pouring wine with the left hand is supposed to bring bad luck.
- A left-handed toast is said to be insincere or even wishing evil against the recipient.
- Most climbing plants entwine to the right. Honeysuckle entwines to the left.
- It is against the rules to play polo left-handed – noooooo -another hurdle for Prince William to overcome.
- The Scouting handshake is with the left hand. Founder Lord Baden-Powell learned while in Africa that this was a demonstration between tribes of great trust and friendship and he thought this symbolic for Scouts to use.
- Most of The Muppets characters are left-handed. This is because most of the Muppeteers are right-handed, using their right hand inside the head and their left arm for limb movements.
- Gorillas are the only species on Earth that are left-hand dominant. Nearly half of all polar bears, chimpanzees and cats show a preference for the left side as, found Scientists, do kangaroos.
- ‘Stewardesses’ is the longest word in the English language that is typed using only the left hand. Though quite why you would need to type this particularly old fashioned word I have no idea.
For my left handed wrap, I have chosen a double sided kraft paper. One side is plain kraft and the other is a kraft with a sliver Victorian flourish. I have used a piece from each side (joining two pieces paper together is a great little trick if you run out of paper) with the fabulous flourish to the left (naturally). Eyes left folks! I have finished it off with a square knot positioned at a jaunty angle. As you know I love a square knot because I am convinced that it is the best alternative to a flouncey bow. I feel pretty strongly about this because I may be left handed but I am always right!