Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Friday, 20 March 2009

Am I dyslexic or just a bit thick?

"I'm numerically dyslexic," I told PB on Wednesday night (you see? This is why I'm single. How is that a good opening gambit on a first date?)
"Are you?" he said. "Or are you just crap at maths?"
"Well, yes: obviously I'm crap at maths. But I'm also numerically dyslexic."
"Has a doctor told you this?"
"No. Can doctors tell you things like that?"
"I think so. You can't just self-diagnose these things."
"I can. I self-diagnose myself all the time. It saves time."
"Go on then. What makes you think you have dyscalculia?"
"Is that what it's called?"
"That sounds quite cool actually. Okay, well: I don't know my own phone number. I've tried to remember it for a year and a half, and I can't do it. And it takes me three or four goes to dial a number, even when it's in front of me: the numbers jump around in my head like little frogs. I can't do simple maths in my head, and when I'm buying chocolate I tend to hand over notes so that I don't have to count the change."
There's a pause.
"Wow," he said eventually. "I feel bad now."
There's another pause.
"Are you sure you're not just a bit thick?" he asked, taking an uncomfortably long swig of his beer.

It's a good question. Am I just a bit thick? Possibly. The point is: it does actually affect your life. If, for instance, my phone runs out of battery and I'm stuck without money (this happens a lot), there's nothing I can do. I don't know anybody's numbers, apart from my grandad's landline. As a result, he is often called upon to "Google a bar in City somewhere: it begins with a 'P'". If I meet a boy I like in a club and I can't find my phone (often happens), I have to say "I don't know my number", which sounds like a 'please leave me alone' excuse, and they never ring. And, when I ring a radio station to ask them to get me on air for voting purposes, if my phone isn't next to me I can't tell them what my own number is to ring me back.

"It's a new phone," I've gotten used to saying. "I got it at the weekend. Still learning my number, how silly am I?" What I don't say is: I got the phone last summer, and the number hasn't changed since, but - apart from beginning in 07 - I couldn't tell you one single digit of it.

How many times, I wondered this morning when Heart FM sat on the phone for six minutes while I ran around the house trying to find a piece of paper with my own number on it, has this got in the way of success without me even realising it? And - more importantly - how many times has my local newsagent conned me out of a fiver? No wonder I'm in such an extraordinary amount of debt.

Numerically dyslexic or 'just a bit thick'? It's a good question. One that, now I come to think of it, I'm not sure I really want answering.