The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

I Just Don't Understand

I’m quite good at Maths. I studied it at unviersity at degree level. I’ve forgotten pretty much everything I was taught there – indeed, a considerable proportion of it evaporated from my mind like morning mist as I entered the exam halls – and aside from a healthy suspicion of all statistics used by people who haven’t studied statistics, I can’t say it did me a great deal of good.

However, that’s not what this blog is about. It’s about the bits of Maths I don’t understand. For instance, I have not the remotest inkling what the scoring system of cricket is intended to signify. It seems to be an entirely different form of Maths altogether, one developed by PE Teachers who have their own idiosyncratic notions about what constitutes an ‘average’.

I distinctly remember missing the one lesson at primary school dealing with analogue clocks, and for years I always had a little trouble telling the time on old-style clock faces. I say ‘a little trouble’ – it took me about two seconds. I don’t have the problem any more, but for a while it was a curious omission.

But even now I have not the faintest clue about imperial measurements. I’m sure I wasn’t taught them at school; in the late 70’s, europe was the future and decimalisation was an inevitablilty. So pounds and ounces, pints and gallons, farenheit and feet, are all a mystery to me. It’s like old money. I can never remember whether it’s 12 of one thing equals 1 of another, or is 14, or is it 20? I can’t retain the knowledge because it’s so unimportant and arbitrary, because I don’t need a second system because I already know and understand the metric system which is inarguably better.

But it’s all Margaret Thatcher’s fault.

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