Two problems with being a former left hander are ironing clothes, and sawing wood.  I used to be ambidextrous (which comes from the Latin for "right handed with both hands," dexter meaning right, sinister meaning left) until my teacher stepped in.  She told us "your right hand is the hand you write with."  I have two rights and no left, and I could get lost in a closet.  These days, my right hand produces writing like the footprints of a drunken spider after a night out on whatever spiders drink too much of after a hard day on the web.  My left writes unbearably slowly, a bit more neatly than the right, but it takes so long I rarely use it.

Ironing I do with both hands, switching the iron from hand to hand as necessary, which left me with a neat little burn on my hand this morning.  Sawing is difficult.  I have the saw in my right hand, but I'm looking at the wood as if the saw was in my left.  I'm incapable of cutting at right angles and everything comes out with a slight diagonal that has to be sanded straight.

Leftishness runs in my mother's family.  My mother was a pure leftie, and teachers made her right handed.  Her brother got off lightly, he is still ambidextrous.  One castle in Scotland was built with spiral staircases that favour left handed swordsmen, because there were so many lefties in that family.  Always nice to have an advantage when you're swordfighting on the stairs, though it says a lot for their confidence in the people guarding the castle.

The statistics I grew up with said that 97% were righties, 2.something% were lefties, and less than 1% were ambi's.  But that was when teachers still occassionally switched people over to being righties.  What's the statistic now?  What percentage of people are ambi?  Who else is an unwilling rightie or a frustrated ambi?  Please leave a comment and say which you are, or were supposed to be.

Update 11 Jan 2003: Unrepentant righties please leave comments too!

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