Thursday, October 28, 2010


Anne cracked with laughter this morning when I asked her how to spell dyslexia. ‘Why?’ she asked. ‘Well, you always say I suffer from a sort of’. I do. A mild form.

I suspect it goes back to being left-handed. Or am I? I naturally picked up axe, hammer and cricket bat in the right hand. But I picked up pencil and pen in the left. It’s not so much a question of being ambidextrous as being clumsy and untidy.

Until my illness set in I had more power in my left leg and arm than my right. When rock-hopping at the beach I always led with the left. But when dressing I put my right leg through my trousers first.

Anyway when I began school they tried to make me write right-handed. I began to stutter – quite badly Mum said. Eventually common sense prevailed and I was allowed to continue. The world is built around the needs of right-handed people.

Anne learnt long ago to avoid using the terms left and right. They confuse me. In the car she’d point, ‘turn here’. When I went to Christchurch Boys’ in the sixth form I encountered cadets for the first time. I stood out taller than the third formers around me in the squad. At the command ‘left turn’ I was busy trying to work out which was left while the group wheeled. The result was confusion. The masters did not believe I was not doing it deliberately. To them it was sabotage. I did a lot of square-bashing. I did not like cadets.

I had no trouble driving – indeed I’ll say it, I was a good driver. And I have only ever been completely lost once in my life. Ravenna. I foolishly made the assumption that the railway station was at the south end of the city. Once I got that sorted out everything was OK. I had a good bump of direction. I never ceased to amaze Anne how I would arrive at the correct destination.

This background is an entry to an increasing concern – an irritating habit of compounding an initial silly error. Yesterday was an example. I wrote a blog about Bill Pearson and his biographer. Just before I wrote it I’d been talking about the writer Jan Morris. When I drafted the blog I wrote Paul Morris instead of Paul Millar. Right through – several times. I did not pick up my mistake.

Last night over dinner I made a comment about Paul Morris. Editor Anne picked up the error straight away. As soon as the meal was over I made a beeline to the computer cursing my carelessness. Alas, my machine was down, for two (censored) hours. Frustration! Back on line I discovered Paparoa had discovered my mistake and gently made a comment. Thanks! I corrected my text.

So gentle reader if you find similar errors be compassionate. I found myself writing Graham Henry when I meant Paul Henry several blogs back. My filters saved me that time. Let’s hope they continue to operate well. I’d hate to give up the blog because of continuing carelessness

After giving me the correct spelling Anne reminded me of the old joke about the dyslexic agnostic who lay awake all night worrying about the existence of ‘dog’.


  1. I am challenged by left and right. After a few years of marriage, we devised a very effective technique for driving in unfamiliar cities. I would drive, and he would navigate, telling me to turn left or right as needed, but accompanying each verbal direction with a very clear hand direction as well. It made for much more relaxed journeys.

  2. That's exactly what I did with Harvey, too, only I just pointed rather than used the words - they would have confused him. As a rsult, when I was navigating my driving friend around France I was hopeless - I kept pointing, and she kept wanting me to use the correct term - but we were on the 'wrong" side of the road I found it incredibly hard to know which word to use!