Post by Harry Bloomfield Post by NY
Handedness is an interesting thing. I had lunch with a woman who ate with
her fork in her right hand and her knife in the left. I was puzzled
because I'd earlier seen her writing with her right hand. I asked her and
she looked bewildered: she was evidently so used to eating with her fork
in her right hand for any food that didn't require a knife that she
hadn't learned to eat with fork in left and knife in right, and
instinctively used her knife (on the rarer occasions) in the opposite
hand to the one she habitually used her fork in.
I was born a sinister, forced at school to use my right hand to write with
by tying my left behind my back. At 71 it now feels very odd to try to
even try write with my left, but most other things I can happily do with
either hand. I am left permanently confused by left and right, because I
don't have a natural main hand. I have to think for a while before laying
out knives and forks at the table. I use most tools with which ever hand
suits the easiest access, or in repetitive jobs often just change hands to
rest one or the other. Picking up a handed item like a circular saw, I
would need to test it with both hands, to see which hand worked best. I
get confused when shaking hands with someone as to which hand to offer and
my hand writing has always been terrible. I can though, beat most people
with hunt and peck on the keyboard.
It was shameful that schools etc used to try to force people to write with
their wrong hand in order to make them conform. If left-handedness was
exceptionally rare, it would be more understandable (though still
unforgiveable), but left-handers are about 10% of the population according
According to that article, I'm cross-dominant: I am very strongly
right-handed for writing ; ambidextrous for most tasks if they are
unskilled ; and slightly left-handed for things like pouring from a
kettle or jug, probably because it allows me to use my right hand at the
same time for the more precise action of stirring what I'm pouring.
I've only met one truly ambidextrous person: Bertie, my maths teacher at
middle school, who revealed, in a moment of daftness on the all-the-sevens
day (7/7/1977), that he could write on the blackboard equally well, forwards
or mirror-image, with either hand. He simultaneously wrote the left half of
each line of a poem on the left blackboard and the right half (the rest of
each line) on the right. He could also write boustrophedon ("as the ox
ploughs" - a word he taught us), in other words, with the letters facing
forwards but written from right to left, like a dot-matrix, daisy-wheel or
inkjet printer prints on alternate head-passes. I thought of Bertie the
first time I saw a printer printing like that a few years later :-)
It's interesting that the article says "Men are somewhat more likely to
express a strongly dominant left hand than women". I wonder if that's
because a greater proportion of men than women are actually born
left-handed, or because they are more likely to resist attempts to change
them to be right-handed, because of their (stereotypically) "stronger"
Surprisingly, given that it is a precision action, I can use a computer
mouse almost as well with my left hand as my right hand, with one proviso:
the buttons *must* be the same way round and not mirror-imaged. I cannot use
a mouse in either hand if the left button is set to perform a right-click
action and vice-versa, as many left-handers seem to prefer. I'm different, I
instinctively use my middle finger on the left button and forefinger on the
right button if I hold the mouse in my left hand, so the "left means
left-click" association is stronger than the "forefinger means left-click"
mirror-image association ;-)
 I've tried writing with my left hand and can barely hold the pen, never
mind manage to form babyish letters.
 When changing hands to give one hand a rest while performing a
repetitive unskilled action.