### Don't Panic

The important thing to remember about mathematics is not to be frightened. It isn't as difficult as the mathematical priesthood sometimes pretends. Whenever I feel intimidated, I always remember Silvanus Thompson's dictum in Calculus Made Easy: 'What one fool can do, another can'.

I have been always a little math-o-phobic. I have tried to analyse this many times, and it's come down to one of the two: conveniently blaming it on some of the tartars that taught the subject when I was in school, or to me having no natural ability in that area.

On reflection, it is the former. For on the two occasions that I had wonderful teachers, I did rather well. It is quite psychological, this aversion. It keeps coming back in waves. And it has been compounded by lack of good teachers during undergraduate studies. They totally squeezed it of all juice replacing it by a worthless and sodden pulp.

I have some friends who share this feeling, and funnily, we're engg. graduates - the kind who should be using maths as a friendly toolkit. I still have to learn how to do that.

[I would like here to go back to the subject of school maths teachers and recall one who was living proof that Aunt Agathas do exist in real life. I would not be surprised, much like Bertie, that the afore-mentioned lady "eats broken bottles and is strongly suspected of turning into a werewolf at the time of the full moon".]

So when I'm going to have my next chronic attack of "the numbers", I'm going to think of dear old Silvanus Thompson and to try not to be outdoors on full moon days.