Some things, you can never forgive – or forget. Strangely, though, the big things I can do both with. It’s the little things that still rankle.
I was only 10 at the time. He was bigger, taller, and more powerful than me. And most of the time, he was smarter.
Most of the time.
“A number,” he said in his ear-tickling bass, “has an eighth added to it. The result is 72. What was the original number?”
Heads were scratched and hands went up. Mr D’s radar gaze swept the classroom and alighted on a small ginger boy in the corner.
“63, sir!” he chirped. “63!”
“Well done, Joe,” said Mr D. “Very well done. 63 it is.”
But it wasn’t. It was 64.
I checked my calculations on paper. 72 already had an eighth added on, so it was nine-eighths, not eight-eighths. That meant you had to divide by nine and multiply by eight, not divide by eight and multiply by seven – didn’t it? The numbers floated in my head, but always settled in the same way.
My hand went up.
And I told him. Divide by nine, not by eight. 64, not 63.
His long face clouded over. He pushed his glasses up his nose, a sure sign of a storm on the horizon.
“No, Kevin,” he said with absolute certainty and an unwavering gaze. “It’s 63.”
He stared at me. I stared at him. Neither of us blinked for what seemed like a very long time indeed.
“If you say so, sir,” I said wearily.
“I do, Kevin,” said Mr D. “I do.”