Mike and Diane Wilson -
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Albert and the maths exam

Albert couldn’t get on wi’ mathematics;
he hated t’ complexity of sums,
didn’t want to add twelve apples to ten apples,
and certainly couldn’t manage it wi’ plums.

Wi’ subtraction his mind were all foggy
and ’e were baffled by division as well,
but as for multiplication
it were a word ’e couldn’t even spell!

For ’im fractions were definitely vulgar,
our Albert didn’t find ’em a laugh.
He’d no idea of a divisor
or t’ difference between quarter an’ half.

Young Albert were fair flummoxed by geometry,
wi’ squares on the hypoteneuse,
an’ as for isoceles triangles
well, his brain nearly blew out a fuse.

When asked to define a square root,
our Albert said: “A funny shaped swede,”
and as for ’is understandin’ o’ pi,
it were summat wi’ chips for ’is tea.

When t’ teacher said “Time for t’ examinations,”
our Albert, well, ’e trembled wi’ dread,
’cos sittin’ at ’is desk - all aquiver -
found mathematics ’ad flown out of ’is ’ed.

He picked at ’is Power Rangers rubber
and flicked bits through the ’ole in the door;
he chewed lumps off t’ end of ’is ruler
and spat out the bits on to t’ floor.

Albert scratched at ’is ’ed in concentration
and plucked bogeys from way up ’is nose,
which he lined up very neatly and tidily
along t’ edge of ’is desk in two rows.

He doodled wi’ ’is Ninja Turtle biro
and drew an eagle tattoo on his knee;
then ’e ’appened to glance up at t’ clock
and ’e found it were quarter to three!

Fifteen minutes to t’end of t’exam!
Albert’s brain spiralled into a spin,
’e gave a big suck at ’is biro
and started to fill t’answers in.

’e didn’t bother to think much,
’e just scribbled an ’azardous guess;
when t’teacher’d collected all t’sheets in,
Albert’s brain were a janglin’ mess.

Next day, when t’ marking were finished,
and they named them ’o’d managed to pass,
our Albert was t’ one celebratin’
’cos ’e’d managed to come top o’ t’ class!

Mike Wilson 2005

This poem won the Over 16s category in a Bridlington Free Press competition for a poem about maths. The prize was a scientific calculator - no use to a writer, so I sold it for a tenner!


Mike Wilson