Those forgotten practical pleasures…[are] a supremely relaxing escape from time behind the computer.
–‘Tips’ from The Gentlewoman, Issue 2, Autumn/Winter 2010
All this started because I read a magazine article focusing on the ingenious things that women, in particular, like to make and do with their hands. I wanted to create a similar list but in a different way: firstly, by posing the question: ‘When you finish working/writing/making, what do you do with your hands?’ and secondly, by asking a whole swathe of lovely people via digital/social media. For all that online communication can be vast and anonymous, it can also be personal across distance–so I reached out to friends near and far as Kathryn, the kid herself, and was warmed and intrigued by the response. (Never once did I mention a computer, but the replies suggest a widespread trend in modern working culture, class notwithstanding, that is hard not to notice…)
Jess Miley: Crack knuckles, chip off glittery nail polish with similarly chipped nail. Hover pointer finger over return button.
Katie Green: I finish any session of drawing or making with some hand stretches–more out of habit than for any particular reason other than it feels good 🙂
P. Sarat Kumar: Close the computer…if it’s after I get off the computer. Stretch. Hands move apart so that I can stretch my back.
Alex: Nothing…not everybody is as gifted , special, talented & intelligent as u……although on some days i am all the things mentioned above & more .
Adnan Wahid: I crack the fingers…
Niranjan H. G.: Depends on basically what I was doing,
normally I wash my hands. Was I sensible in my answer!?
Mathew White Mug: Do my hair maybe
I mean just adjust it
Rosie Roberts: I run my fingers through my dog’s coat, scrape paint off fireplaces, dig weeds from the garden, re-string guitars, let my new niece curl her fingers around my own, hold Rhys’ hand while falling asleep.
Rama Sangye: Your question has made me realise that my hands are almost entirely wasted on me, given that i take them for granted and do not ever consider the blessing of having them and putting them to good use!
Vishal Thomas: Hmm… well smoke
Gay Lynch: On these late winter afternoons, my writing hands scamper off the keyboard into leather gloves, swing to the paddocks and their lines of trees between double fence wires, where they heave the chainsaw over fallen boughs, twining trunks and collapsed strainer posts, keeping well clear if the chain flies off and when it does swinging away from log piles, back up the hill under subdued grey light and a sliver of a silver moon, to inspect their blisters and abrasions over dinner. After several months of this they fail to properly grip, and they shake. Do you self-harm a student once asked, looking at my scarred writing hands lying idle on the workshop table? Yes, I said.
Anonymous #1: When I come to the end of a creative endeavour, my hands remain busy a little longer as they clean, tidy and return work and home spaces to their former glory: it’s practical, ritualistic and very reflective.
Jose Zapata: I stroke my beard
Thomas James: I am rewarded with pleasure via cooking, gardening, gaming, imbibing, tapping out rhythms, and touching screens–amongst other things.
Emily Wyatt: Tools of love, power and drudgery, my weathered hands cease work to caress precious heads to slumber.
Owen Bullock: Shake them, hide them away to stop me gesticulating wildly in my excitement!
Anonymous #2: Opening beers and packing bongs
Bharat Barki: When I finish writing or reading, I either go looking for a joint or go for a jog. Joints are always better, always so you can hit one and go for a jog 😀
Ynys Onsman: When I finish working, I use my hands to repack what I unpacked that morning–phone in bag, coat on shoulders, laptop power off–then shove them in my pockets for the quick march to the train station.
Yvette Kaziowski: When I am not using my hands to bring out another’s beauty, I use them to bring beauty into my life–whether it be by a lipstick touch-up, turning the pages of a book or fashion magazine, petting my parents’ beloved dog, arranging flowers in a vase, or cooking for someone I love.
Ikhtisad Ahmed: When I finish writing, I make to clench my fists triumphantly, but dive into a thorough wringing of the hands, plagued with questions of what to do next.
Yask Desai: I use them (the right one at least) to eat a lovely fish fry, dal and rice.
Ros Prosser: Hands held locked touched smooth lines veins livers spots I’m doing with my hands what I do with everything–looking at them.
Zatō Dom: After working intensively on music or writing I practise the art of ‘Kali’, a stick / knife / sword & empty hand martial art from the Philippines, of which I am a burgeoning Padawan.
Jen Lush: Well, I pick my nails and bite them so far down that they look less like nails and more like small remnants of shell, it’s as much a habit born from nervousness as just a comforting thing to do. I also take pieces of my hair in my right hand and twirl, knot and loop it fairly expertly around my fingers making slip-knots to catch my fingers in.
Nadi Palshikar: I join my palms in a Namaste and thank the Goddess.
Stepan Ueding: Dear Kathryn, what a rude question!
But I haven’t really taken notice, my hands are shaky, it would make me even more nervous to look at them.
They do something with my hair, I think.
Matt Hetherington: what do i do w my hands after? i rest them, or use them for self-reiki!
Jelena Dinic: I have always been fascinated by hands. I remember them more than their owners. I take them for granted. I use them to communicate softly, or swiftly. To hug and to hold. To tuck in at night and to blow kisses in the morning at the school gate.
Ana Abranches Jelinic: I am not sure there is such a thing as ‘finishing work’. My hands are always active in some form of work… I actually sleep with my hands underneath my body… maybe the only way to stop them working is to literally hold them down.
This is the final blog post in my stint as Digital Writer in Residence with the SA Writers Centre. Glowing thanks to the SAWC–especially Vanessa Jones–for hosting and occasionally cross-posting my activities; to my generous and fascinating interview participants Ian Gibbins, Peter Wildman and Lalithashree Ganesh; to the most excellent (sometimes repeat) contributors to Friends with Drinks; to everyone above who keenly and good-humouredly offered up what they did with their hands while refraining from the obvious salacious answer; to Amelia for flying in V formation, and to my social media cheer crew Sarat, Belinda, Pamela, Gabrielle, Kami, Alan, Matt, Alison, Thom, Rachael, Mike, Ian, Jaqueline, Safwath, Jagadish and Rune. Finally, cheers to you for reading, drinking and being online–for never leaving me alone out here.