Ailment of the week: Viking Finger

Guest Post: By Brian Rogers

SunLive.co.nz

newsie.co.nz

Some articles are timeless and can be enjoyed even years after they were first published. With Brian’s blessing, we revisit, ‘Ailment of the week: Viking Finger


Not many of you will have heard of this ailment. I recently became aware of it, when catching up with a very good mate who I hadn’t seen for about 30 years. On shaking hands, I realised that either he had a very peculiar sense of humour, or a strange disfigurement of the hand.

It turned out to be both. My friend’s ring finger was bent back into his palm. It turned out, from his fascinating explanation, to be a classic case of Viking Finger.

Viking what? I hear you ask! Viking Finger, I reply.

Now in our younger years, I spent a lot of time with this guy, who we’ll call Olaf (not his real name) and at no time did he give away any clues of his Viking ancestry. Sure he insisted on wearing helmets with horns on the sides and a bearskin cloak – and, come to think of it, their boat did have fairly impressive turned up ends and that odd, square-rigged sail. But other than that…and fighting a slight tendency to pillage, you’d think Olaf was a fairly standard Kiwi kid.

It turns out that despite the family thinking of themselves of hearty Scottish/Gisborne descent, there had been a sneaky Dane or two, inserting themselves into the gene pool at some point in the dim past. I guess that happens when marauding longboats invade the remote and rugged coastlines of the Motherland, and pillage and speed date their way through the villages.

The result is that some Scots and their descendants have a modicum of Danish, (read Viking) blood in their ancestry.

Viking Finger (Dupuytren’s Contracture) is hereditary. Often called Celtic Hand, it can be remedied by surgery. My friend had undergone surgery to correct the left hand but hadn’t got around to fixing up the right hand, because he’d been reluctant to take a break from work and golf.

I was so intrigued and impressed with Viking Finger, I just had to tell you about it.

Firstly, that my best buddy was a descendant of marauding Vikings; and secondly that there could be such a bizarre quirk of nature that a bloke’s best friend could do funny handshakes, without even trying.

I’ve searched the ancestry of the Rogers, Forster, Wallace and Were clans in my heritage for any sign of hereditary foibles.

The only remotely comparable ailment is the Middle Finger Salute, which I’ve noticed a lot of my family seem to have inherited from their predecessors, especially while driving. It must stem from the old days when one horse-drawn coach was passing another, and they needed a hand signal to communicate to other passing coachmen a rating of their driving skills. (Clearly not a high standard, since the ratings are always one or two fingers).

We’re good like that, always happy to contribute advice to others.

But back to Olaf’s Viking Finger folk. It’s an impressive, if not desirable, reminder of our ancient roots.

Curse of MacCrimmons

So rife in some parts of Scotland, it’s known as the ‘Curse of the MacCrimmons’, a clan so affected it stopped some of the menfolk playing the bagpipes.

Famous people around the world with the affliction have included Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Prince Joachim of Denmark, cricketers David Gower and Graham Gooch.

Just goes to show that Mother Nature does have a sense of humour and that not all Scots are peace-loving, sporran-swinging individuals skipping gaily through the heather. Some have some dark and fascinating heritage. Our thanks to Olaf for allowing us to tell his story, and a big High Four to you, mate!

If you have an interesting inherited trait that this column could share, drop us line. Just be careful typing, in case not all your fingers align with the keyboard.

 


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