- Cue montage of Lucy Fishwife at assorted ages gesticulating wildly and (a) smacking, or worse, innocent bystander in face* (b) knocking over glass of, inevitably, red wine on tablecloth/bride's white dress/small baby (c) accidentally bidding for a Rembrandt. Well, not the Rembrandt but you get the idea.
Shortly after I graduated I had a job working in the Royal Ear Hospital in Bloomsbury. I was "Clinic Supervisor", which actually translates as "temp who makes appointments/tea and fetches medical records". As you may well imagine, most of the patients had hearing problems, and after I'd been there about three days one of the speech therapists came to see me. "We've had a complaint from one of my clients," she said sternly. "He can't understand your signing". It turns out that while I had remembered to speak clearly so he (and other profoundly deaf patients) could lip-read, I had forgotten that my wildly flailing hands were a distraction to people used to looking at hands for meaning. My lips were saying "Yes, Tania is just finishing up with a client and can see you in five minutes", while my hands were saying "Cheese! Nailgun! Exterminate my beans and vote tapir!!!". I sat on my hands after that when anyone with a hearing aid approached me (although I couldn't help wondering - how DO deaf Italians manage? Surely it's a constant barrage of meaningless information?).
However. While idly Wiki-ing Hinduism the other day (I was reading Hindi cyberfiction and had forgotten what Ganesh rides on. A rat. Further reason to love rats!) - I came across the concept of mudras. In pictures of Hindu gods (also Buddha), the position of the hands (and, in the case of Shiva, feet) is vitally significant. I have decided, although luckily no longer in the ear trade, to adopt certain positions which are symbolic of something soothing - for example :
I will look slightly odd, but the likelihood of me poking someone in the eye with my biro or knocking coffee into the computer is greatly lessened.
*Aged 16, I was waving my hands around and poked a lit cigarette up the nose of Bronwen Roberts's boyfriend. Bronwen, if you ever read this, I'm still sorry!!!!