Today I made a most remarkable discovery. To understand just how remarkable we need to go back in time more than thirty years to when I was a little girl and playing with my some conically-shaped weights that belonged to my grandfather. I can’t remember how old I was, possibly seven. I was swinging said weights around in large circles above my head and back down again as fast as I possibly could.
“Don’t do that,” said my mother.
The next minute I had managed to get my thumb caught between them and totally squashed it. It really hurt. I still remember the pain. My mother put my thumb in cold water then hot water. But nothing helped.
As a result of my own stupidity, I have lived with a flat thumb since that day. When I was a teenager I was ashamed of it and would curl it up in my palm, hiding it like a deformity. In later years I have grown used to it. It is actually quite useful. For example I can never remember which is left or which is right, especially in moments of severe stress, like when I am map-reading. “Flat thumb or thin thumb?” shouts Rupert just as we’re about to miss the turning. Flat thumb is right, thin thumb is left.
This morning on our way to the club I noticed to my total and utter amazement that Olivia has a flat thumb – and she has never been stupid enough to squash it. Somehow my flat thumb must have become part of my genetic make-up and as she is identical to me in every aspect, she has inherited it. Incredible. There is just as much difference between her thumbs as mine. And it is her right thumb that is flat, just like mine.
The other two don’t have this genetic quirk. Bea has two flat thumbs, one rather more chewed than the other on account of her constantly sucking it. Leo has very elegant thumbs, like his father.
Was Olivia upset by this discovery? Not a bit of it. “I’m just like you mummy,” she said, giving me an uneven thumbs up.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008