Sunday, May 24, 2009

All out of proportion

The mother of a friend of Flora's has lost 7.5 lbs recently. Or a whopping 7.5 lbs as the tabloids would say. I was musing on this last night and trying to work out what proportion of my own weight 7.5 lbs was, eventually working out it was just over two thirds.

I'm still not convinced though and I started to wonder if other people can work these things out without having to lie in bed counting on their fingers and doing the three times table in their head. Maths is my Achilles' heel and no mistake; I'm the girl who knew the things we used in maths were called Cuisenaire Rods because I liked the name but had no idea what they were for.

I've improved over the years through gaining a bit of confidence and finding ways and means of doing things but proportions always get me. To be honest if someone tells me a place is 300 yards away I wouldn't have a clue how close it was but I do know the green around which I lived as a child was 100 yards long so I use this as my guide.

I find percentages incredibly difficult to get my head around. I've never understood how you can get 110% of something when a percentage is a proportion of 100. Can anyone explain that to me?

My lifelong relationship with my weighing scales means I am an expert on my own pounds and stones but I couldn't pick up a bag of sugar and tell you how many ounces it was or even grams. Inches I work out through shoe heels. I have a vague idea what a three inch heel looks like but centimetres I'm not sure about at all. Are they bigger than inches - I think they are?

The odd things is that, despite this difficulty with being able to visualise and assess proportion, I have a very good sense of direction; however, I think this is less to do with being able to intuit distances and the lie of the land and more to do with being nosy about road signs, landmarks etc. I wonder if the sense of direction I prize so much would be as good in the middle of a desert for instance. I am also utterly instinctive about time. I couldn't tell the time properly until I was fourteen when suddenly I had an epiphany, realising at last what three quarters of an hour actually meant. Despite being a slow developer on the time front, I've always been pretty good at guessing what the time is, perhaps employing some deep-rooted, atavistic skill at reading the position of the sun. I like that image, me as urban Aborigine reading the skies.

So should you meet me, don't tell me that the place I need to get to is 600 yards away. Tell me it's past a pub called the Nags Head and that I'll pass a pound shop and a fountain on the way. I'm 110% sure I'll find it then and if you want to meet me don't tell me the time, I'll come when the sun is low in the sky.

No comments: