The problem was that beyond learning the basic functions that would allow me to function in society, I could never really see the point of it all. Algebra, equations and statistical analysis all seemed like an incredible waste of my time, which was otherwise, more usefully spent playing football badly, smoking in secluded corners and/or drinking luminous alcoholic beverages.
Roll forward 15 years, and my brain has finally cottoned on to the fact that maths is really quite helpful. It's incredibly useful for things like gambling, playing pub quiz machines and working out group restaurant bills. I suddenly feel that I really should have paid more attention in school - and not just copied the answers from my more studious acquaintances.
However, "it's never too late to learn" as they say, so I've been considering how I can more frequently apply robust mathematical formula to everyday life.
So, with this in mind, I started to think about some highly important questions that could be answered through the application of maths and one stood out from the rest.......
How much do you get paid during your working life for shitting?
Defecation is an unavoidable part of life. Most of us need to engage in this task at least once a day. For many, the visit to the porcelain throne occurs during working hours and as a result, is on company time.
As no sensible business could rightly outlaw shitting during working hours without confronting the human rights implications that would ensue, one can only assume that countless £millions are spent every year by businesses nationwide in order that their employees can facilitate this most natural of bodily functions.
On this basis, I shall proceed by using an average British person (we'll call them Dave) as an example case - salary figures used in the 'Dave test case' are the current national averages as reported in the Office of National Statistics' AHSE report 2010.
And here is the man of the moment. Meet Dave:
Dave works in an office as a sales manager for a company that produces rubber mallets. He works 38.4 hours per week for which he is compensated to the tune of £474.24 - a princely annual gross salary of £24660.48.
The length of Dave's average working week is 5 days, usually Monday - Friday . He generally gets weekends off, which is nice for him, as Dave and his wife Sheila have plenty of free time in which to pursue their joint hobby of collecting, organising and photographing famous people's toenail clippings.
Dave began working for the UK's finest rubber mallet distributors at the age of 21 after attaining a first class degree in Bio-Chemical Engineering from Oxford University. He expects to retire at the pensionable age of 66.
Dave's offices are based near a shopping complex which plays host to a wide variety of fine lunchtime food retail outfits - including Subway, KFC, Greggs, McDonalds and a charming little continental restaurant called Abra-kebabra.
Such an accessible diversity of nourishment generally leads Dave to enjoy a rather hearty feast during his lunch hour. As a result of this midday gorging session, on a daily basis at approximately 14:35hrs, Dave's rumbling stomach informs him that he must 'curl one off' with immediate effect.
With his 'imminent arrivals due', Dave rises from his desk with his i-phone and/or laptop in hand, stealthily retreats from his office and heads for the gentleman's restroom on the floor above him ('never shit on your own doorstep' logic applies here).
Upon entering the cubicle of choice, Dave proceeds to start up the 'Angry Birds' app on his i-phone, loads the BBC Sport page on his laptop and then settles in for his daily dump.
At approximately 14:45hrs, with his personal best score on 'Angry Birds' surpassed and with all the kids succesfully dropped off at the pool, Dave emerges from the cubicle, washes his hands thoroughly and returns to his desk.
With all the facts at your disposal, I pose the following maths question to you:
Q: Assuming Dave has his one crap a day, how much is he paid - his current salary never changes - for shitting during his working life (you don't need to account for variables such as holiday/sick time absences - that'd just be silly)?
IF FOR SOME ODD REASON, YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM, DON'T READ ON UNTIL YOU HAVE WRITTEN DOWN YOUR ANSWER:
Here's the formula:
l = Life time shit pay - Dave's was the aforementioned £24,082.50
f = age at start of working life - 21 was the age young Dave began his shitting odyssey
a = average days worked per week - 5 gruelling days flogging inflatables to carnies.
h = hourly salary - A respectable £12.35 for the bio-chemist graduate
u = Usual shitting time - A concise ten minutes on the white seat for our man.
Incidentally, Dave receives £2.06 for every shit he takes at work.
So to put it all together:
l = ((r-f)*(a*52))*((h/60)*u))
The bigger picture
To put this into further context, over the course of his working life, Dave's shitting habits would buy him the following:
- A one night stay in the Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, Palm Beach Casino Resort, Las Vegas - the world's second most expensive hotel room:
- A 2002 Aston Martin DB7 V12 Vantage 2dr Coupe:
- A caravan in Hull
- The chartering of a private jet to take Dave and Sheila from Birmingham to Barcelona (where they might attempt to coax Lionel Messi into donating a toenail for their collection).
The even bigger Picture
So, assuming the average British person takes a ten minute shit at work every day, Monday to Friday, then on a yearly basis, they are remunerated to the sum of £535.16.
Now before Gideon Osborne and his cronies get enraged by this scandalous waste of productivity, they should remember that thanks to the wonders of income tax, the government gets approximately 22% of this 'shitting money' - or an average of £117.74 per year for every employed person in the UK. On the current UK working population estimates of 29'800'000, this would create total average annual tax revenues of:
Yep, you read it right - three billion, five hundred and eight million, six hundred and fifty two thousand pounds sterling - all generated from people having a crap.
Inevitably, this sizable sum will be used to build schools, develop hospitals, improve public services and more likely, further line the pockets of incredibly wealthy people.
Either way, this is money that will be absorbed into the Great British economic machine. So to conclude, next time sometime moans that this country is built on a foundation of shit, you can tell them that in part, they are dead right.
Remember, you're not just shitting for yourself, you're shitting for the future of our nation!