Friday, 14 April 2017

L = Limbs akimbo

It felt just a little bit wrong standing staring at the case of prosthetic limbs in the Wellcome Collection. Mind you, if you've been following these posts you'll know that there are more than a few things on display there that can fairly safely be described as... well... slightly beyond the realm of ordinary. 

I confess I waited and wandered about pretending to take photos of a host of unprovocative and rather neutral objects before I summoned the courage to stroll casually up and take the close-up shots for K = Kinky bitsBut staring closely at a display of disembodied prosthetic limbs suspended in space, I felt even more like a voyeur. 
It was kind of like seeing Long John Silver in his underwear.

Perhaps my discomfort with mechanical pieces of human is because they speak of our vulnerability, and are so closely linked with the harm we cause each other in war. 

Not so my French friend in this poster. 
I call her The Most Serene Seraph of the Extra Bits.  

Graciously smiling, she floats above the clamouring throng, bestowing random extra limbs upon the needy and the legless.
I was about to say that'd be handy after a Friday night at the pub, then I realised it would be a dreadful yet totally unintentional pun. 
So I said it anyway.
You have my permission to groan.
Image credit: Wellcome Library, London

She seems to have dropped by when Saint buddies Cosmas and Damian (who are said to have performed miraculous surgery free of charge and therefore could not possibly have been the forerunners of modern physicians) were performing this medieval demi-leg-transplant. 

Her Serene Seraphness must have been in a bit of a hurry though, because not only does she appear to be wearing her nightie, but the leg she bestowed is quite clearly the wrong bloody colour.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the odd assortment of bits and bobs pictured here is the contents of the first drawer on the right in Grandpa's shed: pen and ink bottle,  cigarette lighter, spoon, fork and knife, cup holder, wooden dolly peg, scissors. 
But no.  
This is a selection of appliances used by an amputee who had lost both his arms at the shoulders. 
Say what?
How did a guy with no arms use these devices? 

Well, they are all components of the genius Mechanical Substitute for the Arms created by George Go-go-gadget Thomson in 1919. The implements were clipped to a mechanical arm that was, in turn, attached to an ordinary dining table.

Now, here's where I need your help.
How DID a guy with no arms use these devices?

During the month of April, I am participating in the Blogging from A–Z Challenge.


  1. That is an odd collection of prosthetic limbs but they're artistically displayed. WeekendsInMaine

    1. Yes, the case is quite aesthetic. I edited the photo with Snapseed to add that 'floating in midair' feel.

  2. I genuinely don't know. Perhaps really talented feet? Some kind of attachment? A well trained animal?

    Interesting post.

    J -- Co-host the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference and Speculative Fiction Writer

    1. LOL . Oh... I love the idea of his cat helping out. Funny visual.

  3. I would contemplate that poser... but I'm still grappling with the issue of why Her Seraphness has included a pink corset amongst the bounty she is dangling teasingly just above the heads of the troops.

    If I get that sorted, I'll move on to the armless man.

    1. I puzzled over that too, but I thought it might offend people if I mentioned her bias against bellies.

  4. Replies
    1. Altogether possible.. Tricky to put the food in his mouth as well, though.

  5. clearly with his dear wife's help, uncomplaining, dutiful, get the drift.

  6. Welcome to the UK, Wendy.
    Unfortunately these days there seems to be more and more users of prosthetic limbs thanks to roadside bombs in places like Iraq. I have never been to the museum you have visited, as we live 300+ miles north of London and if you will excuse the comment that it costs and arm and a leg to make it down there.

  7. Well of course, I loved the legless joke as you might expect!
    The bountiful bestower of limbs did get it a bit wrong at times by the look of it , but then I suppose in those days, you took what you could get and shoved on a pair of trousers or long skirt!

  8. As Monty Python challenged, one does not need limbs to defend a bridge ... but I'm betting hecordered someone to do his bidding - ordered of course as he had to show strength.