Posts Tagged ‘Michelangelo’

I bet you’ve never really considered this, have you? I hadn’t either until the other day when I noticed that Son and I were stirring simultaneously in opposite directions. Most of you will perform this daily ritual stirring clockwise but for just around ten per cent of the population, the opposite will be true.

It will come as no surprise to friends and family that I fall into said ten per cent. I was born with a minority affliction. I am not disabled – I am left-handed and being so renders simple everyday tasks tricky.

Using a tin opener is a challenge; I have trouble with serrated bread knives (a beautiful loaf will end up with a 45 degree overhang); I can’t use a corkscrew and even getting into the house via the front door using a simple Yale key can be problematic. Everything has been manufactured by the majority for the majority but for us Lefties, the world is just the wrong way round.

Buying something as boringly necessary as an iron means I have to choose carefully and from a meagre selection – of those where the electrical cord emerges from the top of the appliance rather than the (wrong) side.

When I was a child my grandmother despaired because she couldn’t teach me to knit properly – I would train the wool ‘the other way’ around the needle.

Of course, there are left-handed alternatives for a lot of things. I wouldn’t be without my left-handed scissors for instance or my left-handed cheque book (not used quite so much these days but so simple – the perforations are on the ‘other side’ of the book) but most left-handed items tend to be flash-in-the-pan five minute gimmicks and of no use at all. The craziest thing I saw advertised last Christmas was SLOPED LINED writing paper. The lines were printed on a downhill slant to prevent ‘left-handers from smudging [their] writing.’ Give me strength! Firstly, whoever writes with a smudgeable pen these days – quill pens went out even before I was at school – and why oh why are we not teaching our left-handed pupils to do the simple thing and SLANT THE PAPER?!!

I’m astonished and irritated that so many left-handed students struggle with their handwriting. Most of them hold their pens awkwardly and/or “hook” their hands over the top of their writing in order to see what they’ve just written. Left-handed children should be guided, early on, to turn their paper so that in effect, they are virtually writing top to bottom, almost vertically. (I’ve always done this – I think I figured it out for myself because I don’t remember anyone suggesting it and my writing is at best stylish and at worst legible). Turning the paper negates bad pen holding habits and helps improve writing. No need for that uncomfortable hooking. I find it incredible that teachers don’t seem to be aware of the subtle and simple changes that could be suggested to make a left-hander’s life easier. I’m astounded that, once a seating plan has been devised, some pairs of students are knocking elbows. Never sit a left-hander on the right side of a desk facing forward: swap them round and instantly both pupils gain much more space. Obvious, you may think but there’s been many a time that I’ve had to quietly suggest a reshuffle.

Left-handers are adaptable by nature – we have to be. We are creative because we have had to be. We come at the world from a different angle. From learning to tie shoe laces to driving a car, our lives have been fraught with difficulties that right-handed people can’t even imagine. We have to put up with the negative connotations that the word ‘left’ dredges up – ‘left out’ and ‘left over;’ the French ‘gauche’ and the Latin ‘sinistra’ whereas the opposite of wrong is good old goody two-shoes Right.

I have to admit to a couple of advantages. I can surprise an opponent playing tennis if I hit the ball well because a left-hand spin sends the ball off in an unexpected direction. I feel at home driving in mainland Europe because for me, anti-clockwise around a round-a-bout holds no fear – in fact, it feels more comfortable.

Left handers are probably more ambidextrous as we have to adapt to using right-handed things. For instance, I was once offered a set of left-handed golf clubs (not that I play the real game – the most I’ve ever done is the crazy variety on holiday) but I did try them out and they felt just wrong. Interestingly, we know a right-handed person who plays with left-handed clubs. What’s going on there, I wonder?

I checked out a list of famous left-handers. Einstein, Michelangelo, Winston Churchill, Bart Simpson, Paul McCartney, David Bowie…the list was quite surprising. I seem to be in esteemed company so why should I worry. Truth is, I don’t. Just don’t ask me to slice your bread, knit you a jumper or open the wine and I’ll be fine.


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Here’s one art form I don’t like: tattooing – because I don’t understand it. What’s that all about? I’d rather go to see Damien Hirst’s Thousand Years than have a young girl’s shoulder with its badly pricked out butterfly foisted in front of me in a queue at the post office. Did she have this done on a whim, after a night of tequila slammers? Why else would she deface her unblemished skin with irreversible graffiti? I understand that ‘corrective’ surgery is available at a cost but it’s apparently painful and leaves scarring. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, one third of people with tattoos live to regret them.

It isn’t even a fashion thing. Fashion, by its definition is ‘something that is popular at a particular time;’ it’s transient: it doesn’t last. Tattoos, whether you get tired of them or not, do. Where has this current trend sprung from?


Celebrities. Let’s blame them. Many high profile people – especially footballers – flaunt their heavily tattooed torsos, none more flagrantly, I’m sorry to say, than David Beckham. I say sorry because, even though, in 1998 he contributed to England’s early exit from the World Cup and I, along with most of the country at the time, held him culpable for the whole team’s short comings, am very fond of dear David. In spite of his ‘body adornment’ he is a beautiful sight to behold; he has an endearing grin, appears charmingly honest and by all accounts is a model parent. His celebrity marriage is standing the test of time and I’m prepared to accept there is a side to his wife that the public don’t see.

He earns millions through sponsorship deals – currently the face of Sky Sports TV; previously – to highlight a couple – the face of Breitling watches (fair enough) and Armani underpants. (Odd, being the face of underpants). Amongst his charitable work he is a Goodwill Ambassador for Unicef and supporter of Help for Heroes. The boy’s done good, as they say; he’s become a national treasure, part of our sporting establishment culminating last year in a starring role at the Olympics ceremony.

Arise, Sir David. Or will he? Are tattoos preventing him from becoming a knight of the realm? (Or would that be Posh?).  Do tattoos deter potential employers, I wonder. I know I’m being unnecessarily judgemental, but if I was in a position to recruit staff, I’d be put off by a display of exhibitionistic self harm. It seems that many folk start off by embellishing themselves with the name of a loved one. There’s an obvious flaw to that straight away, given the rising divorce statistics. Even the name of a child. Who’s to predict they won’t turn out to be an axe murderer?  Enough of this – it’s turning into a rant.


Let’s look at another perfect David. Michelangelo’s. Would his looks be enhanced if someone were to doodle over him with an indelible pen? I don’t think so. The act of vandalism would cause outrage.


The Venus di Milo, now residing in the Louvre and discovered in Greece in 1820, was found in several pieces and reassembled. Her arms were never re-attached as they didn’t appear of the same quality as the rest of the sculpture, so were discarded. I’m just wondering if her ancient creator, Alexandros of Antioch, had been experimenting with a bit of ancient sleeve graffiti. We’ll never get to the bottom of that one but I’d be genuinely interested to hear from the pro tattoo lobby.

You never know, you might convince me it’s art.

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