Hands! A strange subject for this blog but one somewhat forced upon me this week. To be specific I am talking about my hands. They want to retire, to give up working for me; to lie still, sun-warmed, on the armrest of a deck-chair, waving languidly from time to time as friends walk by.
I’ve known them all my life, from the chubby pink starfish waving out of the pram to the wrinkly-backed, blue-veined veterans that they have become. They have square palms, short fingers, one bearing the scar of a momentous tussle with a tin of salmon and a vintage can-opener. The nails are always short, often ragged particularly after a bout of gloves-off gardening.
They have cooked, cleaned, baked, lifted, hammered, twisted, built and demolished. They are hands that once twinkled over the piano keyboard, playing Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin and the rest of the gang in a manner I’m sure the composers never intended. Once they could span an octave+2, now, I doubt they would reach a 6th.
They have played midwife to countless ewes in distress and brought forth their lambs, covered in eggy yellow slime, for their mothers to lick and nuzzle, whickering softly as they worked. They have also sadly buried those that never made it.
These hands have never held a baby of their own and were always anxious when a proud new mum thrust her new-born into them. The mite always pee’d, pooh’d or bellowed, red-faced – more often than not all three.
They have caressed in love and occasionally struck in anger.
They have tried and failed dismally to master the art of sewing – a button is about their limit. Similarly they never got past knit one, pearl one, damn, I’ve dropped ten stitches.
Now, poor things the dreaded arthritis is slowly fossilising them and I fear, that one day in the not too distant future I will wake up to find them encased in stone like the ammonite that sits on my desk, their history forever locked away.
They have worked hard for a living (they belong to a Saturday’s child after all) but now, when I pick up my pen or hunt and peck at the computer keyboard, they protest, painfully – the flesh and bone is weak but the spirit is still willing. They will soldier on encased in warm mittens that my friend Brigitte has knitted for me, embalmed in Nivea, sustained by glucosamine but if anyone out there has any ideas to help them, however weird and wonderful (short of ritual sacrifices) do let me know.