Sunday, 17 June 2018


I have noticed recently that for a lot of people whose grievances once went unnoticed - (possibly unnoticed even by the people concerned, those entitled to be aggrieved) - justice is now being done. What a relief. We no longer have to switch off the television in disgust, revolted that some neglected group in our society remains unrepresented.  Vera Stanhope may work in  rural Northumbria but her police station can boast its share of minority groups - as can the Shetlands outpost of law enforcement run by Anne Cleeves’s other famous character, Jimmy Something or other.

Except, hang on a minute - there are still some of us out here feeling utterly excluded and severely discriminated against. Yes, that’s right, me - and all my brothers and sisters who have also struggled with lifelong discrimination. I'm talking about those of us who are lefthanded, a group who have to face battles with scissors and smudging ink and lack of representation in the media. Just look, next time you see someone pick up a pen on the television or a film: which hand do they use, eh?

When do we so-called "southpaws" - (I know, I know, life really is tough for us and everywhere we look we are degraded by strangers) - get a look in on prime time? When will the shadowy forces that run everything in the wicked conspiracy of empathy-free entitlement  that is today's so-called "society" recognise that, unless every fourth or fifth shot on the screen of a person picking up a pen in their right hand and writing is balanced by a shot of someone doing the same thing but with their left hand, there will be thousands and thousands of us out here, feeling marginalised yet again. Spare a thought for the sense of exclusion each one of us in the left-handed community feels each time we witness a letter being written, a document being signed - by yet another right-hander.

Oppression, tell me about it.

If the creation of positive images of lefthandedness had not been neglected in my youth, who knows what I might have achieved. Instead of spending sports afternoon after sports afternoon being forced to hold a tennis racquet in my right hand, before being told that I was simply the worst tennis player any of the sports teachers at my school had ever seen, I might have felt "empowered" enough to go on to conquer Wimbledon.

Or possibly I might not have. And possibly we all have our own individual difficulties and strengths and weaknesses and possibly gestures at representation cannot cover the entire spectrum of individual sense of self and possibly we should relax and stop making ridiculous nods that change nothing and distract and confuse audiences, so that instead of following the story of Murder on the Orient Express, for instance, we are left asking ourselves, "Were there really people of African origin working as policemen in Slavonski Brod between the wars?"

And do not get me started on the current Hamlet production at the Globe.


  1. "Southpaw" is a term that came from baseball. I guess that early baseball stadiums must have been laid out so that home plate was on the west end of the field, and therefore a pitcher facing it had his left hand to the south. In Major League Baseball, southpaws are highly valued. If you hear of a man of forty or more making a living at baseball, almost certainly he is a left-handed pitcher. (My son is left-handed, and I think it a pity he never developed real skill in pitching: at 6'4" and left-handed, he could have pitched for many years and kept his parents in fine style.)

    The US has had quite a run of left-handed presidents lately: Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, Obama. I am unlikely to go see a movie depicting any of them. But I promise you that if I see the actor signing a bill with his right hand, I'll complain at high volume.

  2. Politically correct casting is my bête noir because it's done in such a cack-handed way, with no consideration of the demographic make-up of a particular time or place. Britain's ethnic minorities may now be around 10% of the population, but they are not evenly spread across each square mile and casting shouldn't be done according to quotas. It can work both ways - there should be fewer English people in Eastenders, for exmaple.

    There is also a well-intentioned but futile attempt to include more black people in historical dramas. You can just about get away with it in Georgian London, or ports like Bristol and Liverpool, but a black face was a rare site before the War, even in the suburbs of London.

    But even when historical dramas have a cast that look plausible, the bubble is usually burst when they open their mouths. Full credit to Claire Foy for her convincing portrait of the Queen.

    1. I am sorry as I completely forgot about checking comments and so only just found this - I've just seen a still from the BBC's reworking of Picnic at Hanging Rock, which appears to have a person of colour in one of the roles of the schoolgirls - I cannot imagine how this works in the story as the whole thing is about the hermetically sealed repressed upper middle class white world of that school at that time. But maybe it is wrong to notice the actor's skin colour at all.
      I tried to watch The Queen with my mother, who was actually around at the time of most of the events - we had to stop very quickly as she kept being enraged by what she saw as errors. Claire Foy does a good job, but her accent sounds a bit self-consciously learned to me, a little robotic, but I'm probably being too critical, as that is one of my many faults.

  3. Oh, and if it's of any comfort, the Greek "aristeros" which looks as if out to mean "bester" means "on the left": of persons, it means left-handed.

  4. I must apologise as I have forgotten to check to see if there are comments for ages. Over the last couple of weeks I've developed a sudden interest in football (I'd promised myself not to watch the World Cup, because of Putin, but that didn't last long). One thing that has surprised me is the discovery that footballers can be left or right footed. Whether that trait is related to their left or right handedness I do not know. I am also not sure whether being one or the other footed is an advantage. I continue staunchly to regard myself as a discriminated against minority on the left handed grounds.