Many years ago, somewhere round the midpoint of my life thus far, I signed up for Maths Club. Maths Club was run by a couple of civic-minded mathematicians from the University of Sydney, who once a week plonked a page of problems before a roomful of empassioned teenage algebraicists. The empassioned teenage algebraicists would solve two, perhaps three, of the problems. They did this by steaming up their glasses, nibbling the overhanging tendrils of their incipient moustaches, and thinking. I, on the other hand, generally solved none of the problems, in part because I lacked the right sort of brain, in part because I never mastered the moustache trick, and in part because I spent most of the two hours of Maths Club declaiming to Bernadette and Jane up the back of the classroom.
I didn't attend Maths Club because of my mathematical aptitude. I attended Maths Club because I thought it would be good for my image. You know how it is; fourteen year old kids are constantly trying to pass themselves off as mathematicians in an attempt to impress their peers. Also, my big sister had gone to Maths Club. For the three years this sister had worn dental braces, I had tugged at my baby teeth with a bobby pin, trying to twist them out of alignment so that I too could wear dental braces. It didn't work, but the attempt at least shows that I was keen to tread where she had trodden. Maths Club had big sister prints all over it.
I developed a lot of theories at Maths Club. This is because whenever I am in the presence of thinking people, I think. I don't necessarily think about what the thinking people are thinking about, but I think about something. Their brains emit a low-pitched hum, and mine starts to resonate along. The person next to me is proving Fermat's last theorem, and suddenly I figure out why you have to put the peanut butter on the toast before the marmalade.
The best theory I ever came up with at Maths Club (a mathematical theory, no less) is the Theory of Why One TimTam is the Same as Two TimTams (and by Analogy Why Doing Half My Homework is the Same as Doing All My Homework). It goes like this:
1. One TimTam consists of an infinite number of infinitely small bits of TimTam;
2. Two TimTams consist of an infinite number of infinitely small bits of TimTam;
3. One TimTam equals two TimTams.
Genius. Adaptations of the theory hold good for most measurable quantities. Three kilometres are divisible by an infinite number of infinitely small distances; likewise three centimetres; so three kilometres equal three centimetres.
(Anyone who's tempted to mention asymptotes can go get infinitesimalised. As the Spice Girls so memorably sung, sometime around 1997, "This is the night when two become one".)
Anyway, I mention all this by way of preempting observations that I have only written one blog post in the last week. One post consists of an infinite number of infinitely small wordments; forty posts consist of an infinite number of infinitely small wordments ...
Blah blah blah.