Saturday, 28th August, 2010.

A Little-Known
Mathematical Fact

     I don’t ever remember hearing of Robert
Recorde before.   Perhaps nobody in Welsh
schools has ever been taught about him and mentioned him to me.   But old Robert is part of our Welsh history
and I mention him here in case you, too, were ignorant of his great
achievement.

     Robert Recorde was born in Tenby
five-hundred years ago.   Now the town is
celebrating its less-than-famous son with a display in its museum.

     For the record(e) – ouch! – Recorde was a
fine mathematician.   And it was he who
“invented” the equals sign (=) without which intelligent life on Earth would be
lost.

     The son of Tenby’s then Mayor, he was
bright enough to go to Oxford Uni at the age of fifteen.   (And him a Welshman, too – surely that would
have irked the English students . . .)

     He was the first person to write books in
English.   That was so ordinary folk
could read them.   Before him, everything
was written down in Latin or Greek – the Proles could not be allowed to
understand such things!   If you’d like
to read his books, they’re about to be republished.

     He became many things in his life.   Apart from being a mathematician, he was an
astrologer (well, we all make mistakes), a doctor – a Royal physician for a
while – and he ended up as Controller of the Royal Mint.

     So, as the saying goes “let us now praise
famous men”.   Or in the case of Welshman
Robert Recorde, let’s learn about him and spread the word about this native of
Wales.

     (Note: 
when I visit Tenby later this year, I shall make a point of wandering
round its Museum and asking questions . . . well, after I’ve strolled along its
excellent beach and enjoyed a couple of ice-creams.)

 

“That’s The Way The
Money Goes . . .”

     Before this particular item, let me say
that any cash spent in any way by Councils is your money and my money.   The same principle applies to what
Westminster calls “government money” – it ain’t
wonga belonging to our glorious
Westminster government;  it’s yours, it’s mine!

     Here’s a bit of natural history for
you.   Dormice rarely come down to
ground-level.   These sweet little furry animals
stay up trees and other high places, mainly for safety and self-protection.

     The Rhondda-Cynon-Taff Council think very
highly about the cute creatures that it is going to spend one-hundred-and-ninety thousand pounds
of local residents’ money on them.

     I think those residents – the human ones –
have a right to query their Council’s decision.   For they feel that there are more important
things which could be done with their hard-earned cash.

     So, perhaps, I should calm them by
explaining that we’re dealing with pretty little dormice here.   You know, our furry friends.   Aaaah!

     Yes, I knew you’d feel better.

     The Council has a project to build – at a
cost of one-hundred-and-ninety thousand pounds – wire “walkways” way
above the traffic so that those tiny little fluffy friends can avoid being run
over.

     Gosh, you’re almost siding with the Council
now.

     Not only is the one-hundred-and-ninety-thousand
pounds
saving suffering among our fellow inhabitants of this planet,
it’s also . . . er . . . no, sorry:  I
give up.

     With the NHS struggling and Welsh schools
limping along, one wonders what other benefits the saving of dormouse life
might bring to the area.   Keeping
dormice above ground-level is one thing – but shouldn’t the Council come down
to earth?!

Archie Lowe

archie.lowe@laughingdragons.co.uk

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About Archie Lowe

Though not born in Wales, I have lived and worked here for many years now. I love the place and love that mercurial thing "Welshness". I have been accused of being "a Taffophile" - which is pretty near the truth. The question I ask whenever some idea comes up for the whole of the UK is: "What's in it for Wales". I believe in an independent Wales and am so pleased that our Assembly is a big step on that road.
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