Tuesday, October 24, 2023

Uncle Ralph - One-Armed Adaptations

For Uncle Ralph having only one arm required many adaptations, some simple, others harder or more complex.

Writing: he had to learn to write again using his left hand. It was a little shaky but perfectly legible.

Shoes: laces were out, it was loafers and moccasins or Velcro.

Scissors: you can buy left-handed scissors, right-handed are uncomfortable to use for a leftie. There used to be a fascinating left-handed shop near Regents street, now online only [Anything Left Handed] selling all manner of items. 

A friend of mine bought a left-handed corkscrew there and left it out at parties causing much confusion when people tried to open a bottle and couldn't work out what was happening. 

I used wonder where my left handed scissors came from but just now I realised that it could well have been from Ralph. Left- and right-handed scissors:

Chopping onions: he had a chopping gadget that you put the peeled onion into and banged repeatedly on the top.

Shirt buttons: another re-learn but rarely needed as he lived in t-shirts.

Nelson knife: named after Admiral Lord Nelson, another famous one-armed person. A knife designed for one handed eating. The blade can be used with a rocker action and the pronged end used as a fork. Ralph had a folding one for ease of carrying.

After he died I asked Mum for his as a keepsake.

Pinball wizard: At Ralph’s funeral one of his drinking companions gave a eulogy including a fun fact I had never heard before. Apparently he was partial to a game of pinball on the Gottlieb in the Colton Arms. The first time he went down for a drink following his amputation he went into the pub and looked thoughtfully at the table. Inspiration! He called to the landlord to bring him over a beer crate. He propped his right foot on the crate and proceeded to play with one knee and one arm.

Poker: Ralph used to join in regular Friday night poker sessions after the pub closed. He used to win some, lose some but generally held his own. After the accident he started losing more often. Finally one of the group drunkenly let slip that there was a vein on his stump where they could see his pulse. He may have had a poker face but the raised heart rate gave it away when he had a good hand. He switched from t-shirts to long sleeved shirts tucked in and started winning again!

Paper hanging: that is a whole separate topic...

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