Sunday, 22 March 2009

Life Changing Indiscipline - A Brief History, Handle With Care


In the 'About Me' section on this blog, I mention that I took an 'A' (Advanced) Level in Pure Mathematics With Statistics.

How I came to take this Pure Mathematics With Statistics ‘A’ Level in the first place is a story in itself. When I was 14, I managed to get myself thrown out of a History class one afternoon, along with another boy, who, for reasons still unknown to me, just happened to have a screwdriver in his pocket.

With nothing better to do than stand in the corridor until the class was over, we decided to unscrew the door handle, remove the connecting rod, and then replace the handle. The outcome of all this was that when class was over, and the teacher walked over to open the door with his usual flourish, the door handle did not work. It rattled uselessly up and down.

Through the small glass window in the door, the teacher could see the two of us grinning and holding up the connecting rod. I can’t recall whether we were told to replace the rod, or whether we just felt it prudent to do so, but replace it we did. The class was belatedly dismissed, and that appeared to be the end of the story.

I don’t even recall being told off at the time, but this small incident was to have a significant impact on my life. A year or so later, when I selected History as an 'A' Level subject, my 'not too impressed' parents were told by the teacher at the mandatory Parents' Evening to confirm our selections, that my presence in his class was not welcome, and I was obliged to choose another subject to go along with my Geography and Economics. My ‘A’ grade ‘O’ (Ordinary) Level in Mathematics was the clincher, and I selected Pure Mathematics With Statistics in place of History.

It was ultimately this qualification that got me out of my career of bank clerk and into the then new and exiting world of computer programming, (the sole requirement many years ago being Maths 'A' level). Although I can't honestly say that this knowledge has been invaluable on the betting exchanges, it can't have done any harm.

My partner in crime now runs a restaurant/coffee shop in Dumfries, Scotland, so I'm not sure his life was impacted quite so much as mine.

Funny how such apparently trivial incidents can have such a far-reaching impact on one's life.

5 comments:

PhilipH said...

Interesting anecdote Cassini. I left school at 14, no certificates of any sort. Making one's way in the world does not necessarily mean you have to be academically qualified. Look at Alan Sugar, or Sralan I should say :-). I found myself working in the bookie game in 1956-1972 and at one time I took on a chap who had graduated with honours in archaeology - as a "boardman" in our Ilderton Road betting shop! Later, in 1972, I took and passed the civil service Exec Officer exams and passed OK. I then went on to program part of the VAT accounting suite in COBOL. I think mathematics has little to do with programming! One of our best analyst/programmers was an art student originally. Variety is the spice of life: that I really DO believe!
Cheers, Phil

Cassini said...

Hi Phil - I know Ilderton Road. I have a brother-in-law who has a unit off of there. And of course being a Palace fan, I have been down there a few times! Yes, I'm not quite sure what the requirement of a Maths 'A' level was, although Maths, like computers, is consistent and gives the same answer every time, other than these 'arty' subjects. I did a government sponsored TOPS course and it all turned out ok, despite my Mother's fears about me giving up a secure bank job. Anout five years later Nat West laid off a load of people including a close friend from school, and although I hate to say "told you so...". I thought I was one of the elder statesmen of the exchanges, but you have me beat. May I ask how old you are? It's a topic of interest to me how old Betfair punters are and what their backgrounds are.

PhilipH said...

DOB: Jan 1935. Born in Epsom but only remember living in Croydon. So, probably one of the oldest swingers on BF, though now with Betdaq!

The Ilderton Road bet shop was one of a dozen owned by a chap from Streatham, John Parry. I started working for him in Sunnyhill Road and later became his general manager. Most shops were in Brixton and Bermondsey. Johnno was another interesting guy, but he is probably no longer with us.
Cheers, Phil.

amorphous said...

Hi Cassini,

to my shame, this is the first time I have read your blog for a few weeks.(definitely one of the better blogs there is)
I have just spent an enjoyable 15 minutes catching up, and I really enjoyed this piece and 'The trouble with a Challenge'. Excellent blog articles.

Cheers

Alan

Cassini said...

Cheers Alan - don't stay away so long next time!