What follows, is simply a human cry of despair from one poor innumerate wretch who finds himself lost in the new terminologies, the scientific progress and the whole terrible onslaught of up-to-date technical jargon.

I was always bad at maths and that no doubt accounts for a big part of the trouble. I have never been able to come near fathoming the square root of minus one, and those problems, so easily solved by 10-year olds, along the lines of “If six men in two days can eat one hundred and eighteen mangoes, how many mangoes can eighteen men eat in fifty-four days?” have always been completely beyond me. I have not felt too ashamed of this because over the years I’ve found many a kindred spirit – people, like myself, in whose minds numbers jumble and jostle intriguingly but seldom fall into orderly place or create beautiful patterns.

What has surprised me much more is to discover in myself an old-fashioned distaste for the new and the up-to-date. I tend to dignify this by claiming that I prefer the tried and the true to the fashionable and the flashy. But in my heart of hearts I know this is just an excuse for rejecting what my mind and imagination cannot become accustomed to. For instance, I am one of those who seriously objects, on purely literary grounds, to most of the modern efforts to bring out new translations of old classics. I recognise this as being merely weakness, the dull conservatism brought on by an aging mind and more slowly racing blood. I can no longer keep up with young thinking – or indeed young anything…..

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