Sitting as I am in the library in Durham (oh, how you can tell that there is less that six months to go before I return to the bosom of mother-Clifton) I find myself cowed and arraigned from all sides by sporty types of chaps. Now, although I can talk a good game of rugby as well as the next man (woman/transgendered ‘X’ – I can’t keep up, I really can’t), I find myself oppressed. Yes oppressed!
What has brought this about? I hear you cry! Is it the fact that they are fine specimens of young men at the peak of their physical prowess? Or that they have the nonchalance to walk from the library and leave their wallet behind, there on the desk! (I have lived in too many dodgy places to risk such a thing – I was in seminary for three years after all). Or think that they can get away with not shaving in the morning.
|We, the nonchalant, shall cow you by our nonchalance|
No I tell you, no. It is because they are studying maths, and it looks SO difficult that it took me a moment to realise that it was maths in the first place. Me, I’m a GCSE maths teacher, strictly quadratics and sample sizes. I get a frisson of excitement when thinking of solving simultaneous equations with matrices. But not these chaps. They laugh (I’m sure) in the face of translation vectors, the scorn (without doubt) the solutions to a quartic equation, and I dread to think how they would react if I suggested working out the angles in a circle.
So I have done what any self-respecting Priest does when faced with such a terrible sight, I took out my breviary and started saying Vespers, muttering Latin for all I was worth. And with an open book of Unanswered Questions in the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue in front of me.
|If in doubt, mutter Latin prayers|
I might scribble down some meaningless algebra with a few squiggles of my own making, followed by a hovering question mark in a moment. And then ponder it, mid Latin Psalm, while muttering
“surely Feuerbach’s hypothesis would never work in that matrix paradigm”
I will not be defeated! Never!