Me and my left hand;Left-handedness

9th April 1999 at 01:00
When right is wrong

Boxer Henry Cooper says teachers gave up trying to make him use his right hand. "In those days we used fountain pens and when you got a new book it would always end up smudged. I was caned on a couple of occasions for it."

He also used a left jab for knock outs - "I always said the right hand was for wiping away the sweat."

Olympic athlete, Steve Cram says parents and teachers made half-hearted attempts to make him use his right hand "but it was a waste of time". He developed his own way of writing, but scissors were always a bit of a problem. "The world is geared to right handers, but I'm proud of being left-handed. I like being a bit different and that is certainly what I shall tell my left-handed son."

Politician Lord Jenkins of Hillhead thinks that he escaped being made to write with his right hand by about two years. "No one forced me and I was not psychologically disadvantaged in any way." He still writes all his material, including his recent biography of Gladstone, long hand, but says he does have trouble with the telephone.

"I find it very difficult to write and hold the phone. Also, as I get older, my handwriting is getting less elegant."

Austin Mitchell MP didn't experience any pressure at home because his mother was left-handed. "I was lucky too at school because no one ever tried to force me to use my right hand. However, I am messy and clumsy, but I put that down to a personality trait, a natural incompetence."

Broadcaster Esther Rantzen says her mother believed that King George VI's stutter was because he had been forced to write with his right hand, so she was allowed to write left-handed. "At junior school that was OK except for eating, which they said would be a nuisance, so I learned to use my right hand." At the age of 6 or 7 she had an accident, breaking two fingers on her left hand. "When I got back to school my teacher said it would be a good opportunity to learn the right way round. My mother was in the school like a shot, saying absolutely not, that I was to be left-handed."

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