Magpie 11 was the owner of the sticky fingers to suggest the topic of


for this weeks chapter of the Loose Blogging Consortium.  So pop along and invigilate his contribution and while you are at it correct check on Conrad, Ashok, Ramana and Marianna for their exercise homework too.

Reconciliation or ‘Hands Across the Divide’

Maurice Harron is the Artist behind the wonderful sculpture of two men reaching out to shake hands in Carlisle Square, in Derry, Northern Ireland.  The sculpture has become an icon of the peace process here in Northern Ireland.

The first idea that Maurice had was a sculpture of two men staring at each other, signifying the animosity that existed between the two communities. But as he worked, trying to capture this troubled relationship, he changed his mind. Instead he made his two figures reach out and shake hands, and called it ‘Reconciliation’. As the deadline for casting the figures approached, he made a crucial alteration.

“I separated the men a bit, so the hands don’t meet.” This reconciliation was “an ‘in progress’ thing”.

Installed in Carlisle Square in Derry in 1991, Harron’s piece caught the public imagination, and quickly became known as ‘Hands Across the Divide’.


Jumping back to days before Ashok was born, indeed to my school days I remember hands that moved me…


There were many hands that moved me on my passage through life.

My mothers hands that taught me many chores about the house.  Even today when I look down at my hands peeling potatoes or vegetables, ironing a shirt or cleaning a window; the movement of my hands is exactly the same as that of my mother.   I would apply a dressing or bandage just as she did and it would stay in place.  I learned to cream butter and sugar for a cake by hand, in the days before we had electric beaters or food processors.  I did say by hand and I meant that.  Despite my intolerence of dairy products I spent many an hour beating the mixture with my hand in the bowl, I think the idea was that the heat in my hand speeded the process.

My Auntie Mary, a school teacher and Daddy’s eldest sister was the lady who patiently taught me the love of the needle.  She helped me to read a pattern properly and spent a full day gently showing me how to piece the pattern pieces together, insert a zip mark a straight hem and add finishing touches. Thanks to her when I got my first sewing machine on the day I finished the Leaving Certificate examination (It cost all of £24) I made a lined shift dress with patch fringed pockets.  I put it on and walked up the floor to show my father when he came home from work!  I never looked back after that.  She also tried to teach me to crochet on another occasion.  I had difficulty holding the thread correctly, but she didn’t complain she let me work out my own way to do it and again I proved myself.  That is a story for another day…

Jack was a man with great patience and He would quietly call me with the words… “You won’t always have me and you will need to know how to: change a wheel, a fuse or check the oil in the car”!  I did under supervision, change the oil, oil filter and spark plugs on one of our cars.  Nowadays I leave all that to the professionals as my arms are no longer strong enough to do it.  He showed me how to change a fuse in a plug, to let air out of a radiator and also a simple method of book keeping, the latter with a twinkle in his eye as he said “A woman who can’t manage the books is not worth marrying”!

I had great trouble with this subject.  Perhaps it was because I was trying to think in words and the topic was set by a teacher (sorry Magpie 11), it was at the eleventh hour that I began to think with my hands and then and only then did the words flow.  Perhaps if my early education at school was in that way….

Who knows!

31 thoughts on “Hands

  1. Marianna

    You may have had great difficulty in “thinking” about the subject but you definitely “did” the subject justice. Lovely tribute to the hands that hold and help us!

  2. Rumuuser

    Trusting your hands did the trick. It is beautiful Grannymar. If I were near you physically, I would do a high five with both my hands. You the lady, lady.

  3. Nick

    The Maurice Harron sculpture is wonderful. I didn’t realise it changed from animosity to reconciliation to almost-reconciliation. An interesting creative process. Good that you were taught to be “hands on” in so many ways.

    I also think of hands as showing affection – squeezing someone’s shoulder, stroking someone’s hair (or a cat!), holding hands, feeding a baby. And many other examples.

  4. Magpie11

    I wish my hands were so skilled.
    Sorry to give you problems, okay I’m an educator but after some of our conversations I’m always amazed at how good you are with words. It’s good to see that your hands help you think. Too many of my teaching colleagues do not understand this about some people…more than at first appears.

  5. Conrad

    Grannymar, as with all parts of you, your hands seem so clearly to be extensions of your heart. All that they touch are endowed with love…

  6. Grannymar Post author

    Marianna – There were many more hands that helped mould me into the person I am today. I chose three.

    Ramana – I am learning, still learning.

    Nick – I will leave the cat to others, and only add one more to your list… using my hands to wash the feet of a stranger.

    Magpie – Little problems, only little problems. You more than most have stretched and taught me on the Blogs.

    Conrad – You old Charmer… My hand is putting the cheque in the post right now! 😆

  7. steph

    Gorgeous post!

    I LOVE the sculpture and much enjoyed your memories of times past while listening to “I wanna hold your hand”.

    Full marks, Grannymar

    Now I wanna some MORE!

  8. gaelikaa

    Well, that was a very enjoyable post. I love the Beatles. It seems they had their first big hit in 1963 and that was the year I was born. I used to have this huge crush on John Lennon too. I love watching videos of the Beatles and hearing their music, I could do that forever! Well, whenever you have a minute, could you ever so kindly drop over to my diary blog and read my latest post? I’ve been given a virtual blogger award, and I am nominating you as one of the bloggers I would like to pass it on to! I would be honoured indeed if you would accept it. All my love and best wishes, gaelikaa

  9. Grannymar Post author

    Steph – There won’t be much more tonight. Sleep calls.

    Gaelikaa – While you were busy arriving into this world, I was doing the Intermediate Cert? I will be over soon to visit your blog. Thanks for the honour!

    Ashok – I always wanted to build a Kit Car. See I would have used my hands for that too.

  10. Alice

    I’m quite impressed with this post that came from a single word suggestion. I’m so glad you learned to think through your hands to write such thoughtful posts through them. Now I’m going to read those from Ashok, Magpie 11 himself, Ramana, Conrad and Marianna to see what they’ve come up with.

  11. Grannymar Post author

    Judy – I can but try! 😀

    Alice – It is fascinating how we all approach one word from very different angles. None of us knows how or where the others will venture.

  12. Baino

    Wonderful Grannmar and the sculpture is indeed incredible. Maybe one day he’ll do one where the hands do actually touch. I wrote my father’s eulogy about his hands and all they’d seen, wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

  13. bikehikebabe

    I have all of the Beatle’s 78 speed records & I’ll never forgot “I want to hold your Hand.”
    My hands get rough in this dry climate (unlike Ireland) & I must use hand-cream.

  14. Marianna

    I started along the same lines of yours – a tribute to the hands that helped and help me, but as usual, what I start with is not what I end up with.

    By the way, we have a serious lack of public sculptures in this country.

    With the Olympics arriving, I’ve noticed a few more popping up.

  15. Ursula

    Yes, Grannymar, hands … I too appear to THINK through them.

    Never do you appreciate them more, indeed acknowledge them, than when you lose their use. I managed to break both my wrists nearly three weeks ago (I am typing this with one finger). My frustration and irritability grows with every day. No stamping of feet or shedding bitter tears will quicken the healing. Maybe that’s the lesson I am being taught – an exercise in patience, an endurance test.

    I can’t write, I can’t cook, sew, lift a book, hang up the washing, clean, drive, earn money, ANYTHING – and I am one of those irritating people who don’t know how to accept help. On the upside: You wouldn’t believe how useful teeth and feet come in when the shit hits the fan. Though going to the loo is one challenge too far.

    I’ll be absolutely terrible at coping with old age when the time and its fallout come – that much I have learnt in the last few weeks.

    Any words of wisdom will be gratefully received.

    Grumpily yours,

    PS Do you realise that you will always itch at a part of the body that arms in plaster cannot reach? No wonder I don’t believe in a benevolent god.

    PPS To stick with your initial subject: There is the ‘helping’ hand – so often stretched out, yet not taken; there was my mother’s cool hand on my feverish forehead, and then there was that most delicious feeling of my son’s in mine.

  16. Grannymar Post author

    Baino – We have a long way to go in this land before the hands join with ease.

    I was asked to do a reading at my mother’s funeral… I chose Proverbs 31:15-31, it really spoke about her and how she used her hands for others.

  17. Magpie11

    How did you manage to do that? I expect you fell and put your hands out. I have seen it happen more than once when people are dancing at a barn Dance or Ceilidh.
    Take your time healing…thinking of you.

    I didn’t know that the Beatles had released anything on 78 rpm records. Have to say, I always found Lennon obnoxious. While my contemporaries raved about him I felt “sick”. I never knew why in those days.

  18. Grannymar Post author

    Ursula – I blacked out about four years ago in my garden and broke my right (major) wrist. Living alone meant I had to get on and use my left hand for everything. Left hand mouse skills improved 100%! I thought I did well until Ramana sent me this:


    It took me quite a few minutes to find it!

  19. Ursula

    Magpie, thank you so much.

    Unfortunately nothing as enjoyable or worthwhile of a fall as the barndance suggested by you. Just walked round the corner of our road, feeling so happy at 2 pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon when my left foot gave way and I collapsed like a marionette, a puppet on a string. It is quite remarkable how life can change from one moment to the next, dramatically.

    I suppose that the largely happy half century I have lived so far has spoilt me, kept feeding my optimism; and I rail at any misfortune. Oh, I don’t know, Magpie, one could write a learned essay or just stay still on the sofa to make head and/or tail of life and why I never do things by halves.


  20. Grannymar Post author

    BHB – My hands get very dry too. Sometimes, when I remember I put hand cream on both my hands and my feet at bedtime and wear cotton socks and gloves in bed… Since there is no man about to see or tease me, it is no problem!

    WWW – I look forward to that poem.

    Marianna – I set out to find the Hands of the Apostle that Magpie used, but a senior moment or three prevented me from remembering the name Durer. Then I went totally blank for three days! My camera is teaching me about outdoor sculpture. and it makes me walk further to discover what is around the next bend!

  21. Ursula

    Grannymar, thanks for the clip. Is it really any comfort that life could be so much worse?

    I could cry watching that woman and her baby – involuntarily shedding tears being my current default mode by virtue of the constant pain and my refusal to take painkillers non stop.

    Some of us are not cut out for certain things. Better to accept one’s limitations. HA, now there is a whole new subject to raise on your blog!

    Can’t wait till I am able to kneed that next bread dough again. Thanks for letting me cry on your collective shoulder.


  22. Grannymar Post author

    Ursula – Life can always be worse.

    I have found that staying indoor my problems grow to fill the space. If I go out I am sure to meet someone with problems the size of great boulders, making mine seem like grains of sand. I hope you are well on the way to healing.

  23. Rhyleysgranny

    A very thought provoking post. I knew nothing about the story behind ‘Hands Across the Divide’. Interesting. i shall use that info at a later date:)
    Your reply to Ursula made me stop in my tracks so to speak. How very very true.

    Strangely i was talking about hands with my Mother in law this morning before I read your topic. She is 89 now. I was asking her if she ever looked at her hands now and like me wonder who they belong to. I look at my ageing hands and still in my mind are the smooth work free slender fingered hands of youth. It still shocks me when I look at mine. Oh if they could talk of the things they have done. 😉

  24. Grannymar Post author

    My hands, bent fingers and all are just like my mothers. I realise the other day that it was time to get the gloves out again. Autumn has really arrived.

  25. Rhyleysgranny

    Those are Heberden’s nodes, caused by little bony outgrowths in the finger joints. More common in women than men and there is a genetic component involved so that is why you see your mother’s hands. Goodness I didn’t know I remembered all that from my orthopaedic training forty years ago. Do you know I was seeing some of the first hip joint replacement s done? They had a bad time back them. They kept fracturing the femurs during surgery. Of course they have perfected the art over the years lest you panic. I don’t think anyone realised then how common a procedure it was to become. My Mother in law has the same affliction as you in her hands, and her hips and knees are affected. My husband has arthritis in his knees. I am fortunate. My mother nor any of her family had arthritis and neither have I. You suffer a lot of pain. As you say the nip in the air will let you know all about it.

  26. Grannymar Post author

    Rhyleysgranny – I am glad to jog your memory to the past. The problem with my hands is due more to circulation than arthritis. The joints are not distorted, in fact mine look more like ‘Hands of the Apostle’ by Durer, the focus of Magpie11’s post on this subject. The bend is worse in winter and I have less grip. Gloves are essential for me.

  27. Kate

    That was lovely – how well I remember those things – the hand beating of cake mix, the Beatles music….. you are so right, hands are precious… I became disabled in both of my hands some years ago and although I cannot hold things for long – it doesn’t stop me trying…. decorating, cooking, ironing – it just takes longer!!!

  28. Grannymar Post author

    Kate – I am stubborn and try to keep going doing the jobs I always did, but like you at a slower pace. Time is something I have plenty of and since I live alone there is no problem if a task is left unfinished until the next day.


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