31 July 2012
Answer: They were both left-handers.
You know the feeling when you wake up in the middle of the night in a strange hotel, jet-lagged and hung over on charter flight brandy, and you crack your head on the mirror-fronted wardrobe as you try to locate the bathroom? Well, apparently that is what being left-handed is like. Only it's constant.
So upset are left-handed people by the lack of sympathy from the 90% who are more dextrous and adroit, that they have declared 13 August International Left-handers Day* . Their aim is not only to show how hellish life can be in a discriminatory world built for the convenience of smug right-handers, but also to trumpet how wonderfully they overcome the obstacles.
Apparently left-handers have more elastic brains, we are the superior 10% of the population, for instance, do people realise how difficult it is to write a cheque when the stubs always get in the way?
You wonder how they cope in those Eastern cultures where left hands are earmarked for lavatorial duties and are not even allowed near a cheque stub.
Left-handers always boast about famous left-handers, such as Lewis Carroll, Cole Porter, Picasso, Einstein, Marilyn Munroe and Leonardo, whose left-handedness is clear in the cross-hatching on his self-portrait (see left). However, that still leaves plenty of famous people are aren't left handed. And what about Jack the Ripper, the Boston Strangler and Tiny Tim? All left-handers, but they don't get boasted about.
It is thought that humans are genetically coded to be born right-handed, suggesting that something goes wrong to produce left-handers. It is thought that left-handers are more common in groups of individuals with a history of alcoholism, suicide attempts, epilepsy and migraines, that left-handers are likelier to suffer from asthma, insomnia, allergies and diabetes, that they are likelier to have car crashes and, as if that were not enough, that they have less life-expectancy. Doesn't sound too attractive, does it? But then, is it any wonder with us left-handers having so work so hard just to carry out normal activities?
Left handers have trouble using can-openers, scissors, soup ladles, potato peelers, saws, cameras, hockey sticks, fishing rods and microwaves. Unless left-handers are reading, say, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian or Pashtun, many find reading books, a nuisance. Even men's trouser flies are designed to be opened with the right hand, and asking a stranger for help is not always appropriate. Some might think it even cheekier than a left-handed compliment.
I've always said that life is very difficult for a left-handed, short, shortsighted person (me) - and no wonder!
Also see: http://www.stanleycoren.com/e_left-handed.htm