I don’t do maths.  Can’t do maths.  I hate numbers and am bordering on phobic.   Numbers make me feel stupid.   I have blogged before about my lack of a maths GCSE (or technically speaking lack of an O level as GCSEs hadn’t been invented.  Yes, I really am that old).    I make no secret of it, or the fact I am not terribly academic.    It’s a fact.  I am not looking for sympathy or messages of contradiction telling me “oh but you are”.   I didn’t do A levels, hell I barely scraped five O levels, a similar number of CSEs (the equivalent of a foundation GCSE).

Remember that BT advert in the 80s where grandma, Maureen Lipman, congratulates her son “oh but you got an ology.  Everybody needs ologies”.   Well that is me.   Biology (don’t snigger), psychology, sociology, palaeontology.  Okay maybe I lied about the last one but suffice to say I am more at home with the social sciences than I am with the more cerebral stuff.

So I am not quite sure how this came about but on Saturday night the teens decided that I was going to sit a GCSE maths paper.  You can print them off the internet and see for yourself just how stupid you are.   Which is how during the Splash final I was presented with the paper, a compass, protractor, ruler, pencil, rubber and black biro.

I broke out into a cold sweat.  I was 15 and in a cold sports hall again.  Not kneeling on my living room floor with my phone, laptop and calculator confiscated.

The first of the questions were relatively easy.   Measure this line, work out this angle, find 380 on this line.   This bit I can sort of do.  And I can really do menu selections (why is that even on a maths paper?  Ask me how many permutations of the menu there are and let me give you a number, but just asking for them?!).

Then it just got stupid.

Questions about how many slabs Robert would need to make a new patio.  Why doesn’t Robert just ask the chap in B&Q who’s job it is to know these things?  Why do I need to know that?

Pointless.  That’s what most of the questions were.  Pointless.   One about what was the maximum number of shortcake biscuits you could make with ingredients that had been factored up.  But all the ingredients had different factors so it didn’t look like a proper recipe.


And why I only got 59%.    Almost half of it wrong.  That bit of maths I can do.   A D apparently.

Whatever.  I have got three ologies so how big does your pipe need to be for me to roll them all up and stick them in that then, maths?

Huh?  Work that one out for me.

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  • I did my maths gcse 3 times. Each time my marks got worse. The 3rd time I didn’t even pass.
    I hate maths. Have the stuff I got taught I won’t need to use in my adult life!

  • And who would put Ham and Lasagne together anyway? So much of the maths I did at school has served no point whatsoever and now when the children come home talking about doing long division in chunking, I have an awful tendency to think more about ‘blowing chunks’ than what they’re talking about x

  • I wasn’t allowed to take o level maths, I went on to be an accounts clerk when I left school.

  • Ha. I love maths! But I have to say “school maths” is very different to every day common sense. And I think Maths teachers have a lot to answer for. I bet you are much better than you think…..

  • For me it’s the multiplying of fractions that I never could understand. Why do we need to know that?

  • Heh heh I admit I was the one who put up my hand and asked the maths teacher when the dickens in my future life would I ever need / use those stupidly long equations. Obviously now I am smug having never needed them 😉

  • I used to love maths at school but had to use Google to help me a couple of weeks ago when my 11 y/o asked me a question!

  • Oh I feel for you! I did manage to get a Maths ‘O’ level (yup, I’m old too, which is why I remember the Maureen Lipman advert) but I have no sense of numbers – can’t do anything in my head yet I could do the stuff on paper. I would be hopeless at darts: all that addition and subtraction would make me go cold.

  • Argh I’m so with you on this. For my maths GCSE I had to design a car park. Work out the optimum amount of spaces, calculate turning circles etc. Obviously a skill I would rely lots on it later life!

  • nope same for me.not good at maths in school. i don’t see the point of inventing a story to add up and round up stuff! i somehow managed a C at my baccalaureate and was ok. but now i am an artist with excel and can do add ups in my head with no problems. so really i didn’t need all that in school! i am scared though as i will need to help my girls shortly and how can i help them when i am useless?!?

  • My husband and I often have ‘discussions’ on this matter. He teaches maths and it really good at it. I had to take my O level five times before I scraped a pass. He says everyone can do maths and it is all about the teacher and the mindset; I say crap, I am rubbish at it and that’s that. He has offered to teach me and I won’t repeat my answer but I’m sure you can imagine. We all have different strengths and if we’re not good at maths, we make up for it in other ways

  • You must be able to do maths if you have Psychology? LOL at the B&Q comment – because it’s only when you get home that you realise that he worked it out wrong! A D is still very good – it isn’t a fail 🙂

  • I actually loved maths so much I took my GCSE a year early. English lit on the other hand made no sense to me at all. All of these authors subtly hinting at the points they were trying to make and elaborate use of metaphor. Why not just say what you mean? If Shakespeare could have had a nice anonymous blog to make his points we’d all have been spared a lot if hard work.

  • This post is going to give me nightmares, I know it. I HATED maths too. Like you, I just couldn’t work out what the heck the point of it was most of the time. I did it up until Higher level (A level equivalent), and there was a mistake in the final exam paper – they’d asked us a question that was actually impossible to answer. It was awful, all these people sitting at their desks crying because they thought they had messed up, when it was actually a problem with the exam. *shudders* Never again. I think 59% is damn good actually, missus, and you should be very proud of yourself. xx