mother tattoo

It's all my mum's fault

Hello, my name’s Duncan, and I’m the founder of Left-Handed and;
I am, of course, left-handed. My mother was left-handed too. I am a little biased it has to be said, but she was a wonderful, warm, friendly and funny person. However, I now realise that, above all she was a typical left-hander. Endlessly creative and imaginative.

In my earliest memories, I can see her sitting in the living room, drawing in the margins of her newspaper. On closer inspection, I would see that she was drawing women, maybe ten in number, down the length of the Daily Express. Each beautifully drawn blue biro lady wore a skilfully designed and unique outfit. The next day, I’d peep over her shoulder as she bent double on the floor with pinking sheers in hand, cutting out from her own pattern, the material of her own choice for a garment which was the product of her imagination. The next day she would be sat at her Singer sewing machine running up her creation, and later that day, we’d be treated to a fashion show. She must have been good at it because one summer in the mid-sixties, she went to London to be featured in Women’s Own magazine wearing one of her creations, not one page but two!

My mum, Jean, was also a great wordsmith, a witty and whimsical poet and a great writer. Her unpublished autobiography, written in her lovely handwriting, is my most precious possession.

It begins with an emotional ‘bang.’ Her first memory is the wake following the death of her beloved father; she was only four. ‘Poor wee mite’ is the expression that stayed with her. Later, she began her schooling in the Royal Borough of Rutherglen, not Glasgow, an extremely important distinction to her. As I have already alluded to, Jean was a very bright, clever and creative individual, yet she was placed in the ‘dunces’ stream, as she put it. How come? Well, she was left-handed; it stands to reason. No, of course, it doesn’t. This was the early 1930s, and her headmaster was a product of the Victorian era; left-handed, we can assume, meant somehow inferior to the right-handed ‘norm.’ 

She was often beaten and forced to write with her right hand whilst her left was tied behind her back. This went on for a few years, and as time passed, her misery increased until one day, the headmaster departed this earthly plane, to which destination we will leave unsaid.  As an adult, my mother admitted to being a little ashamed to say that she was very happy that this man had expired and had been replaced by a younger, modern, forward-thinking headmaster with new ideas and lots of enthusiasm. The new man very quickly noticed what a bright girl Jean was and insisted that she be retested. 

Perhaps it goes without saying that my mother was elevated to the top stream and finished her education with flying colours.

An experience such as this is, to say the least, character-forming. She developed a fierce pride in her left-handedness; I know that she was delighted when her second born, me, was blessed with the same persuasion.

She never tired of pointing out that so many of the great and good were lefties. 

Naturally, I developed many of the skills and downfalls of those dominated by the right brain. 

I didn’t perform well in any subject that required logic or methodical calculation. 

My brain seemed to be wired up and tuned into flights of the imagination, a talent that was deemed somewhat useless at school, as opposed to the opposite. 

However, my mother always reassured me, “Duncan, book learning is a talent of memory; it’s imagination that changes the world.”  Thanks, mum; if it wasn’t for that pure nugget of advice, I’m not sure where I would have been today.

To date, I have enjoyed, and I mean enjoyed, a forty-year career as a visualiser artist, graphic designer, art director, creative director and owner of my own advertising and branding company. In my spare time, I have written a screenplay for a feature film, I’m writing a novel as we speak, and I have harboured the desire for many years, in honour of my mother and in her memory, to develop Left-handed and proud. 

It is many years since Jean, my mother, passed away, but I know she, too, would be proud of her left-handed boy.

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