Left-handers, Crystal, Rug
If we knew how to harness it, the power of telepathy could revolutionise the world. Our minds are constantly communicating across vast distances, without wires or words — it must have taken millions of years of evolution for us to lose the ability to interpret these messages.
I’ve got news for you: we do. And if you grew up thinking that it was a disadvantage to be left-handed, you have a double shock coming. Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Prince Charles and Prince William are all left-handers. So were Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Mahatma Gandhi.
Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Tolstoy, Charlie Chaplin, Beethoven and David Bowie: all left-handed. Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Shirley MacLaine, Emma Thompson, Scarlett Johansson and Reece Witherspoon: all left-handed. Gary Sobers, Roberto Carlos, Ayrton Senna, Jonny Wilkinson, John McEnroe… left-handers.
Oh, and Henry Ford, Bill Gates, JS Bach and Judy Garland. Convinced yet? We lefties are in charge.
Researchers from the Australian National University discovered that left-handers processed information faster, in tests which measured the speed of thoughts travelling between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The study, led by Dr Nick Cherbuin and published in Neuropsychology journal, was based on the theory that complex tasks, such as driving in heavy traffic, or playing sports and computer games, require the brain’s halves to communicate rapidly.
Being left-handed is not a matter of choice. It’s hard-wired into the brain’s circuitry. For 90 per cent of the population, the left hemisphere of the brain focuses on details, while the right side sees the bigger picture. “In left-handed people, this is completely reversed,” says Professor Glyn Humphreys of the University of Birmingham’s school of psychology.
The programming starts in the womb, before the embryo is even recognisably human. According to a study by Queen’s University in Belfast, left-handers like me would have been sucking my left thumb by the time we were 15-week-old foetuses. Professor Peter Hepper, who led the research team, said at that age our brains could not consciously control movements — so left-handedness is a deep-rooted instinct. And it always has been: cave paintings from 30,000 years ago in France were made by lefties, according to a University of Montpelier study.
Human beings are superstitiously afraid of anything that’s different from the norm, and left-handers have always had a bad press. We even use the Latin word for Ã¢â‚¬Ëœleft’ to describe everything creepy… Ã¢â‚¬Ëœsinister’.
The Queen’s father was a left-hander, much to his parents’ disgust. George V tied a length of string to the boy’s wrist and, every time George Junior tried to use his left hand, gave the string a sharp and painful tug. This cruel treatment didn’t make George VI right-handed, but it might have exacerbated his terrible stammer.
Much as I’d love to believe that lefties are a superior mutant strain of human, I suspect we do better, both in tests and in the real world, because we are faced with constant difficulties. Society makes life easy for right-handers. Even something as basic as a door handle is designed for a right-handed grip. Lefties are constantly, sub-consciously figuring out puzzles that the rest of the population never sees.
The more we use our brains, the smarter we get. That’s what makes left-handers into winners: we face constant challenges.
One challenge I faced this week was how to get a 1.5-tonne crystal off the delivery lorry. I’m convinced this astonishing stone, the gift of my friend Johann Egger in Munich, has powerful healing properties — but that won’t protect me if I drop it on my foot.
After a lot of head-scratching, I called Martin Summers, the gallery owner, to ask what he does with heavyweight artworks. Martin had the bright idea of contacting a firm which specialises in manouveuring stone and bronze sculptures, such as Henry Moore’s massive, and priceless, pieces.
Every quartz wristwatch contains a tiny chip of crystal. It’s energy and vibrations make the timepiece accurate. Now I’ve got a lump of quartz big enough to power Big Ben!
My home is surrounded by pieces of crystal, many of them worth thousands of pounds. That’s one of the privileges of living behind electronic gates, with surveillance cameras trained on every inch of the grounds. If I lived on a street in trendy north London, where every other home belongs to a celeb, all my crystals would vanish in a single night.
I don’t have to worry about photographers either (except Shipi — he’s always snapping me!) but if I had a Hampstead mansion, I’d feel I could never step out of the door without facing a lens. Most of them wouldn’t be interested in me, particularly, but the thing about paparazzi is they shoot anything that moves.
I felt sorry for Hugh Grant, who lost his temper and slung a tub of baked beans at a Ã¢â‚¬Ëœpap’. The guy was actually hoping for a glimpse of Hugh’s ex, Liz Hurley — the actor just happened to walk by, and the shutter started clicking.
I’ve seen Hugh’s home from across the street: David Frost’s garden party last year was practically on the doorstep of the Four Weddings star. I said at the time to Hanna that I’d hate to live somewhere with so little privacy. Clearly, Hugh’s feeling the same way.
My friend, the master chef Onder Sahan, presented me with a magnificent Turkish rug when we dined at his Tas Pide restaurant in Waterloo. Built into the arch of a railway bridge, it rumbles every time a train goes overhead, but the effect is strangely peaceful. We felt as though we were eating in a rainforest, to the music of a far-off thunderstorm.
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