HOLLY MIRANDA SMALE

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.







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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?"
"Uhuh."
"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.