The thing about...; the left-handed shop

The days are gone, when being left-handed constituted a passport to the ducking stool, but life for lefties - as Tony Benn would tell you - is not entirely a bed of red roses. This substantial minority, (roughly a tenth of the population) still faces daily irritations, from loo-roll holders placed slightly back on the right-hand side to etiquette demanding that they cut tough steaks with their weaker hand.

Most household chores are a bigger bore for the left-hander. If you're one of the nine-in-ten, you probably never stop to think about the way your tools are designed. That slotted spatula you fry with for instance: you've probably never even noticed that it's end is slanted so that you can run it round the outside of the pan and scoop everything into the middle. Try doing it with your left hand. Everything tips out onto the stove instead.

My favourite lefty has sliced herself open three times on my Swiss Army Knife and is incapable of opening a wine bottle. Left-handers are generally quite adept at adjusting to the realities of life, but she longs for just a few tools of her own: a kitchen knife with the serrations on the right, a saucepan with a reversed pouring lip, a corkscrew that doesn't involve pushing the wrist inwards to turn it. "I don't think about it much," she says, "until I order a cake and they give me one of those stupid pastry forks with the double tine on the left. What am I supposed to do with that?".

The championing of this particular minority group falls to the Left Handers Club, an organisation which distributes quarterly newsletters and involves itself in the political side of things. Peter Luff MP recently tabled a set of educational questions on the subject in Parliament. Membership of the club also entitles one to 10 per cent discounts at their wonderful sister shop, Anything Left Handed, in Brewer St, London W1 (0171 437 3910). Their mail order catalogue contains everything from books to baby spoons. They carry 20 different pairs of scissors (pounds 3.25-pounds 36.95), lethal-looking Sabatiers (pounds 15.75-pounds 35.95), vegetable peelers to save skinned knuckles (pounds 1.95), calligraphy and manicure sets. If you love a left-hander, you could send them the "left-handers essential pack" (scissors, corkscrew, tin opener, potato peeler) for only pounds 13.95. Oh, and they also do pastry forks. Call 0181-770 3722 for a catalogue.

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