One-tenth of the British population have the chance to celebrate
their sinister side on 13 August, International Left-Handers Day. However, most
left-handers won’t even notice, as this is one of those designated days that
has had the take-off success of a dead ostrich, writes John Charlton
In the beginning
The celebration was launched in the US in 1976 by an organisation
called Left-Handers International. It sold products for ‘lefties’ and published
an occasional magazine, which folded in the early 1990s.The left-handed baton
was then picked up by the Surrey-based International Left-Handers Club (ILHC).
It wants to "help left-handers feel proud of their
handedness", and has staged annual events on the big day for several years.
Last year it set up a stall in Leicester Square, central London and
created a left-handers’ zone where, among other activities, right-handers were
invited to use their left hands for everyday tasks, such as cutting paper with
Other events in the UK included lefty zones in
Southend-on-Sea and Belfast, which featured left-handed products, games and
Worldwide, a lecture and awareness campaign was held by
the Association of Left-Handers of India in Pune and a lefty zone in a shopping
mall set up in Eureka, California.
These infant school-type activities may appear risible, but the
Leicester Square event attracted high media interest in the UK.
Club spokeswoman Lauren Milsom says she was
"overwhelmed" by the media attention the Leicester Square activities
attracted, and she did back-to-back radio and TV interviews from early morning
until late afternoon. In 2001 she did 29 interviews in one day, including one
with ITN news, before midday.
And this year? It looks like left-handed celebrations
will be of the virtual kind. “No event is planned for this year, but we will be
having events on the website – www.left-handersday.com
– such as a sinister quiz about myths associated with left-handedness, a show
of left-handed creativity and some interactive games,” says Milsom.
Getting the low-down on left-handers
The club’s main effort has gone into a 2,500-respondent survey of
left-handers, charting their views on how left-handedness affects their career
choices and everyday lives. At time of writing, this was undergoing a final
analysis prior to press releases detailing its findings being distributed.
Some of these will likely find favour with the national
media. For example, 45 per cent of students who responded felt they were
disadvantaged by their left-handedness. Desks and multiple-choice tests
designed for right-handers are particular bugbears.
Some 16 per cent of respondents felt their left-handedness
gave them advantages in particular fields such as IT, the media, the arts and
The ILHC hopes its survey will generate sufficient
publicity to raise left-handedness related issues and make companies and
organisations realise they should do more to make left-handers’ lives at work
and college a little easier.
The left test
How left-handed are you? Try this test. Are you sitting comfortably?
Then fold your hands together and look at which thumb is on top. If you’re a
“lefty”, or have “lefty” tendencies, your right thumb should be on top.
For more information about the day go to www.left-handersday.com