LIFE OF BRIAN: Who else didn’t realise it was mid-February already?

Left handed
Picture: athree23 from Pixabay
Brian Hicks

When the comedy film Life of Brian was released in 1979, I was teased endlessly by friends. It has come back to haunt me with my new monthly column.

I am a member of various minority groups.

I am male, like 49% of the UK population.

I am left-handed, like 10% of the overall UK population and 12% of the UK male population.

Thinking it held the key to some lifelong issues I had, I spent five years researching into left-handedness. However, it turned out that  I was bipolar, the real problem.

About 2% of Brits are bipolar and I will return to this subject in my April column.

Everybody has met a left-hander, but you are unlikely to know more than one person who is bipolar, unless you work in mental health, are a vicar or in another profession where you meet many people.

It is improbable that you know a bipolar lefty man like me as we account for only about one-in-800 people. I have three close friends and four cousins who are left-handed, but, until recently, only knew one other bipolar person.

Left-handers interact differently with the physical world to right-handers, use the right-hand side of their brains more frequently and often think very differently. If you have to assemble a team, it is a good idea to have a left-hander in it. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

A biological sciences professor I know gives a test she devised to all potential new members of her research team. She finds that left-handers perform much better at this than right-handers. As a consequence, most of her researchers are left-handed, and, when I first met her, nine out of the 10.

My brother and I are left-handed, our parents right-handed. I remember my father trying to teach us how to tie a tie. We both failed miserably as we were incapable of doing it like a right-hander. Eventually we worked out how to do it left-handed. The same with shoe laces.

My father had copper-plate handwriting and hardly touched the paper when he wrote. I tried to write as beautifully as him, but pressed down with my pen so hard that I could still read the impression I made six pages down.

My writing was neat, but painfully slow. I learnt to be very concise, so I could get away with writing less.

During my research I became convinced that there should be a well-funded UK or European handedness research institute, ideally located at one of the leading universities. As far as I can tell, there are no centres like this anywhere in the world. Such an institute could help make life easier. A large part of our brain is concerned with our hands, so why not get to know them and how we use them much better?

Left-handers have had a raw deal from society for centuries and it has only improved in the last 60 years.

I am surprised that lefties never protested to demand better treatment. Being forced to write right-handed was one of the worst abuses that were faced, as happened with my grandmother and uncle, although the UK was one of the first to stop this.

Today, thankfully, everything is much better for lefties. I still sometimes dream of living in the Cameroon, where there is a tribe that hero worships left-handers for their spear throwing and other skills. And where the ladies are very attractive too.

There are high levels of creativity in both bipolar and left-handed individuals.

I hope enough of this has rubbed off on me to provide you with entertaining and informative columns over the coming months.

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