Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Why life in the left lane can become a right handful

Unkindest cut: Trying to use scissors is one of the banes of a left-hander's life
Dr Robert Ballard
Kylie Minogue

Once upon a time my sort would have been burned at the stake. The way I do some things is a little bit sinister. They call me a citeog and a southpaw, with the mark of the Devil. Yes, that's right, I'm left-handed. Left-handed and proud. That's not to say I don't suffer for my quirkiness, so many thanks to Sir Peter Luff, an MP who recently called for left-handed pupils to be given more help at school with difficulties such as writing and cutting out. I wouldn't change my leftiness for the world but there's no doubt it throws awkwardness into life. So here's my top 10 annoying obstacles for the clumsy.

1. Scissors

Obvious place to start, I know, but there really is nothing more annoying than the scarcity of left-handed scissors. I've never seen a pair in my life and I wouldn't know what to do with them if I did. Through sheer lack of any other option, I've adapted to the 'right' way through some sort of evolutionary, survival of the fittest process.

2. Tin openers

No such luck on adapting to tin openers for me. I've have learned to use them only through a convoluted, cross-over hand gymnastics move that seems to work... very slowly.

3. Serrated knives

Sounds simple, but you try cutting bread with a one-sided serrated knife when the edge is on your blind side. It's literally a pain in the neck.

4. Supermarket tills

It's a random inclusion but my days behind a supermarket checkout were miserable because of the unapologetic way it was set up for a rightie. My colleagues had seamless scan and bag techniques, while I had to break out the slow hand gymnastics move again.

5. Potato peelers

This is a controversial subject in my household. I am convinced that I am physically unable to use a potato peeler – my husband insists that a peeler is neither left nor right and therefore I have no reason to refuse to peel spuds. I also believe extremely strongly that I am physically unable to peel any vegetable of any description with a small knife.

6. Knitting

Apparently it is possible for the left-handed to knit but I could never get my hands around a purl stitch. At school, I was separated out from the girls' knitting class and encouraged to crochet. I couldn't do that either.

7. Bumping elbows

Whether it's at a school desk or dinner, being seated to the right of a rightie will always end in the frustration of bumping elbows. And it is inevitably the lefter who gets the blame.

8. Smudged writing

I could have been a beautiful calligrapher if I wasn't so awkward. Elegant ink pens are a complete no-no – you will only end with a dirty hand and great big mess on your page.

9. Seat desks

At university I had to endure the trauma of those seats that either had a small table top which could be produced from the arm, or one already attached to the right hand side. Ever seen a left-handed one? No. My arm still hurts.

10. Driving

Cars are one of the few inventions in which I feel we lefties have a bit of an advantage, with the gear stick in the right place. It's the actual driving that can be difficult. My instructor was very taken with my insistence on turning at the bottom of a cul de sac by going counter-clockwise, effectively by pulling on to the wrong side of the road. I still struggle with this. The fact that I live in a cul de sac only adds to the fun.

Titanic lecture a voyage of wonder

Inspirational is a description that's bandied about a bit too easily – to the point that when someone truly inspirational comes along, you need a new word. I'm going to use it anyway to describe Dr Robert Ballard, the man who discovered the wreck of the Titanic.

I was lucky to attend a lecture with the world-famous oceanographer in Titanic Belfast last week and left genuinely seeing the world through new eyes. He had his audience engrossed and was signing autographs like a rock star at the end.

For the first time ever, I wish I'd paid more attention in science at school.

 

You should skip Kylie's video nasty

I love Kylie but if there's ever a sure sign of a rubbish song, it's an explicit video.

The pint-sized pop star has been raising eyebrows with the video to accompany her new song Sexercise.

The name gives you a clue as to the content which involves lots of cheesy gyrating, wet leotards and bouncing balls.

But no matter how much Kylie tries to push the boundaries, there's no getting away from the fact it's one of the worst songs I've heard in a long time.

Surely Kylie's been around too long to go down the tawdry Miley Cyrus route.

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