There was a radio thing about mathematics and puzzle-solving this morning, and it reminded me that I achieved the grand result of zero marks for my 'O'-Level maths.

I remember turning off from the whole subject. At the end of term at my primary school, the maths teacher wrote a complicated equation on the black board and said, "Next year you will be doing these." One girl said she was giving up, but she didn't mean it. I did.

The next teacher was far from inspiring, and seemed to use the teaching of maths as a punishment. "Right. More maths homework for you."

The only puzzle that I really tried hard at was given to me by a South African lodger we once took in. It was the pictorial one about the three houses which each had to be connected to the three services (gas, electricity and water) without the pipes and lines crossing.

After about three days, I decided that it was impossible and suggested this to him.

"It

*is*possible," he said, "I have done it myself."

He went back to South Africa and I spent several more years on it before I realised he was just a fucking liar. Worse than that, he was a South African fucking liar at a time when white South Africans needed all the friends they could get.

I never took O level maths having been thrown out of the class when we started algebra. I was good at mental arithmetic and put in a class taking the Cambridge Certificate in Arithmetic and got 96% when I took the exam at 16. The trouble is nobody has ever heard of it.

ReplyDeleteThe name 'Cambridge' attached to it sounds impressive though.

DeleteTo solve the puzzle you fold over the paper and draw the awkward lines on the other side.

ReplyDeleteSimple ain't it :-)

Disqualification.

DeleteIf in London you can have the Trains, Drains and Underground crossing I would have thought that the services you mentioned could work.

ReplyDeleteLondon is 3D...

DeleteI hated Mathematics, but loved Geometry and Algebra.

ReplyDeletePerhaps your man's problem involved a series of Mobius strips? Seemingly impossible?

Actually impossible.

DeleteI hated Maths too .... in my O-level, I wrote the question, left a space and drew a line !!!! I think I got a low pass but that was probably for neatness and for getting my name right !!! XXXX

ReplyDeleteI would have got -1 if I had spelt my name right.

DeleteI mean NOT spelt my name right of course.

DeleteI loved geometry. Algebra was ok, but I was forever making careless mistakes -- and in those days -- even if you did everything right one careless mistake and the whole thing was wrong.

ReplyDeleteJust like the Atom Bomb...

DeleteThat you found out that the SA was a fucking liar made me laugh out loud.

ReplyDeleteHe was one of the first liars I discovered from many more in the future. I am still not rid of them.

DeleteA mental blockage descends upon my brain when the word maths is mentioned.

ReplyDeleteMe too Weave. It's a shame, isn't it?

DeleteI got a 3 in csc maths.....then what did i do? I went to work in a bank

ReplyDeleteSo we can blame you?

DeleteI failed my maths 'o' level. I think the teaching was fucked up.

ReplyDeleteI went to a school with some very bad teachers.

Delete