As my wife was leaving a store in town, she overheard a woman asking directions from the assistant. "As you leave the store take a left," she said.
The woman followed my wife from the store and approached her as they both reached the street. "Can you tell me which way is left," she said, "I'm not very good on left or right."
It puts me in mind of children's shoes marked with a big L or R so that they would know the difference.
Of course the Japanese have difficulties with their Ls and Rs; there is no such sound in Japanese so when they learn English they get them mixed up.
When I went to Japan for the first time I learned how to count to 99 in Japanese. It goes: Itchy, knee, sun, she, go, run, hitch, hutch, queue, Jew. Form there you just put the didgets together: Jew-itchy, Jew-Knee, Jew-run ... and so-on until you get to queue-Jew-queue. I've forgotten what 100 is. Of course, this is just what the words sound like, I'm not sure whether you can transcribe Japanese into English characters, or if you can, how to spell them.
The other remarkable thing was to hear a japanese lecturer talking about leukemia research, only on his slide he had spelled it Reukemia Lesearch.
Don't ever get operated on by a Japanese surgeon lest he mistake your L kidney from your R kidney.
It seems to me that politicians are getting their left and right mixed up. Of course American politics is divided between a right wing party and a very right wing party, but in England the conservatives are supposed to be right wing and the Labor party, left wing. But things are confused. We have Tony Blair, a Labor politician as George Bush's closest ally. In England he is often called Bush's poodle, but that is unfair. I tend to think of him as Bush's more articulate brother. Many of his policies are very similar to Margaret Thatcher, indeed, when he was elected Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher was heard to refer to him as her spiritual heir.
On the other wing we have David Cameron, the new leader of the Conservative party. His new policy document stresses green issues and public services. He seems further to the left than new Labor.
Perhaps the left/right divide has had its day, and the dividion that is now important is between libertarian and authoritarian.