With all the new schools, new countries and new mathematical systems, I am mathematically illiterate. I thought, fleetingly, that geometry was beautiful and precise and that algebra was essentially solving puzzles, but the majority of it was hieroglyphics to me. With fingers, I can do any sum under twenty. Sixty if the bots are at home and I can be arsed to take my wellies off.
I ended up doing Maths Studies for Baccalaureate - it is essentially colouring in tessellations and predicting whether you'll get an ace of hearts. One of the few things I remember is truth tables - or was it logic? The two were sadly not always synonymous in my chaotic school life.
Either way, I rather loved the spare, clear elegance of if and then. If I get 39 points then I can escape to University. If I hide my lighter up my sleeve, then I can have a sly fag before drama. If I read Walden to the end without stabbing myself, then I will discover, allegorically, the secret of solitary self-reliance.
Poor Rose is mathematically blessed and will be doing GCSE a year early. This weekend, as a sensible antidote to teenage hyperbole and contagious hysteria, school has taken her group far away to a forest, in tents, with three tons of pasta each and a squirty bottle of golden syrup.
Last night it threw down buckets and today is blowing wild and sunny; that fabulous, illogical weather that polka-dots the pavements with blossom confetti and induces madness with jangling new leaves and gusts of blinding, sunlit rain.
They will be soaking and starving when they get back; they have no phones, only maps and notebooks. They have to record fauna and count wild ponies and species of meadow-flower. Thoreau would approve.
Thank heaven she's good at maths; it would be a nightmare removing those great sodden boots every time she got to eleven.