Quite why Johnny Ball is leaping about my subconscious this morning I don’t know – but he is and he’s waving his arms about manically and spouting lots of amazing stuff about numbers, equations and surface areas and doing his damnedest to make it all sound jolly and fun.
And it works.
I hated Maths at school. Absolutely loathed it. And I hated Physics even more. Our Physics teacher, Mr Prior, resembled a leather jumpsuit wearing troglodyte with a beard bushy enough to lose Ray Mears in and who demonstrably had a pathological hatred of all secondary school pupils. Especially wimpy secondary school pupils who had utterly no grasp of the manly science of Physics. What can I say? Mr Prior rode a huge eff-off motorbike to school everyday and regularly flirted with the svelte, cool-eyed French teacher (whose name escapes me but who looked like a female version of the keyboard player from Duran Duran) while I was a weedy bespectacled nerd who found numbers and pulleys and electrons all rather boring.
And yet I was totally addicted to Johnny Ball’s Maths/Physics based educational programmes.
The man was mesmeric. A little bit insane yes but he managed to make Maths exciting and even appealing. His enthusiasm was infectious. Even a numberphobe like me found himself swept along by Johnny’s unbounded zeal for number patterns and intricate gear systems. I think Johnny’s trick was not his intelligence in his chosen subject – formidable though it was – but his ability to communicate and transfer his own passion for the subject into the hearts and minds of his viewers.
If Johnny Ball had been my teacher at school I’d be an award winning physicist by now or even better I’d have had my cherry taken by the unnamed French teacher above. Instead I’m a disgruntled civil servant who writes novels and poetry in his spare time and whose cherry wasn’t offloaded until he was nearly 30.
I kid you not.
Hmm. But maybe that’s sharing a little bit too much information?
I’m sure Johnny Ball would be able to plot an entertaining graph mapping out my divergence from manly science stuff and my headlong dive into the world of literature and not pulling anything but a cracker for three whole decades... but as he isn’t here you’ll have to make do with this 'ere blog.
In the meantime my unanswered question is this: whatever happened to Johnny Ball?