The Other Side

THINGS have been getting a trifle tense in the Castle household. It is not, for once, the doing of Small But Fierce of Ipswich either.No, this time the Ginger Ninja is the source of said tension, although to be fair it is not entirely his fault.

Dominic Castle

THINGS have been getting a trifle tense in the Castle household. It is not, for once, the doing of Small But Fierce of Ipswich either.

No, this time the Ginger Ninja is the source of said tension, although to be fair it is not entirely his fault.

Like a million other teenagers, the shaggy one is about to embark on his GCSE exams and we are now in the edgy world of revision.

Now in my day (pause to light pipe and don appropriate hat) revision was best left until the day before the exam in question - the night before, preferably. That way as little as possible of the precious knowledge crammed into my brain would escape before it could be committed to paper.

By such tried and tested methods did I manage a collection of thoroughly mediocre O Levels, which was actually somewhat better that the collection of thoroughly failed O Levels that I was forecast to achieve.

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SBF assures me that her own O Level was acquired the same way, though cramming needlework must have been a challenge in itself.

Maths was always a weak point for me; I was always baffled by the world of numbers.

So what on earth possessed me to tell GN that I'd help him with his maths revision? Despite the assertion of his teacher that he is a mathematical genius the truth is he struggles.

I share his pain. As soon as I opened his maths revision guide when we sat down to spoil a Sunday afternoon I remembered why I'd forgotten everything there was to forget about maths when I walked out of my last exam on a sunny day in June, 1978.

The book was full of stuff like; If the square root of the cosine of 5x - sine 3y is at the start point of a vectorised parallelogram prove that x is greater to, or less than or equal to, the national debt of Bophutswana. Show workings to the nearest seventeen decimal points or a giant badger will steal your lunch money.

Well, I made the last bit up, but you see where I'm coming from. I sighed. The GN sighed. I sent him round to see our friends' daughter Laura, a sweet girl with a charmingly eccentric tendency to get excited by bacteria but a good mathematics brain.

She put him right on a few things and all was well with the world. Until we came to history.

It's not as if they have to learn dull stuff like the prime ministership of Andrew Bonar Law (1922-23, if you're interested. He was PM for 209 days). No, they get to learn about American Indians or the history of medicine. Can I get him to revise that? Can I Blackfoot.

Instead we have an ongoing tussle to get him to do anything other than art and food technology. That said, he is a fine little cook and if the worst comes to the worst he won't starve. Anyway, how many GCSE's does Jamie Oliver have?*

Even the dog's going through a rebellious streak at the moment. We took him to our friends' new home, a beautiful spot in the Suffolk countryside, surrounded with open fields full of wildlife for him to (unsuccessfully) chase.

He liked it so much he decided he wanted to move in and when the time came to get in the car and go home he staged a revolt and legged it down the garden. We waited until he reappeared, when he stood by the back door waiting to be let in and gave us the kind of filthy looks normally only seen on the faces of disdainful cats.

In the end I had to pick up his five-stone carcass - they're heavier than they look, greyhounds - and stick him in the car. He's had the hump ever since.

At least SBF has kept a cool head, albeit on top of a stiff neck, cricked when she was brushing her curly locks. I found her flat out on the bed - the poor creature was immobile. Lesser husbands might have taken advantage, but not I. Instead I lured her upright with a chocolate Brazil held just out of reach and applied healing hands to the neck. Lesser husbands might have taken advantage…

*Two, apparently.

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