Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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18/5/14: it's OK, it's not dengue fever

Interesting, this word 'not'.  In my previous job as an initial teacher trainer, I used to ask students this question: "Suppose I observe a lesson you teach, and afterwards in the debrief I start a sentence, 'I don't want you to think of this as a criticism, but...', what would you be understanding me to say"  And we would agree that this would be understood to be a criticism.  Similarly, I always brace myself ready for some appalling remark when people start by saying, "I'm not being sexist / racist, but..."  Afterall, if you're really not being sexist or racist, if there is no suggestion that what you are about to say is sexist or racist, then it makes as much sense to start a sentence like this as it does to start by saying, "This is not a poem in Serbo-Croat, but..."

So, if I say, "My house did not burn down on January 1st 2011" you can rightly suppose that there was reason to believe that it might have done - an electrical fault which was quite alarming at the time.  And, finally to get to the point, if I put in the title that I don't have dengue fever, you will, I would expect, be thinking that there is reason to suppose that I might have, that this is not a random observation which applies to the overwhelming majority of the world's population at any given time.

Truth of the matter is, I wasn't feeling very well when I wrote the last blog entry from Dar es Salaam Airport, and considered not going to the conference.  In a slightly different order to normal, a suggestion of a chest infection became a chest infection, then led to a cold, which then led to a sinus infection.  Which now, over two weeks after all this started, has left me with the symptoms of the cold and chest infection largely having gone, an intermittent headache which I would call a 'face ache' if that didn't mean something somewhat different, and feeling totally devoid of any energy.  So, I was invited to day at the beach yesterday, and very reluctantly said no, but I think that was the right decision - managed to get as far as the living room at one stage but when I kept on dropping the book I was trying to read, decided to go back to bed again.

During the middle of all of this have been to the doctor who did a blood test for malaria and dengue fever, both of which were negative.  Dengue fever is doing the rounds at the moment, sounds dreadful, all you can do once suffering with it is to wait for it to pass, no treatment as such.

I would say that being at a conference feeling like death warmed up wasn't much fun.  Whilst in many respects staying in a hotel in its own extensive grounds, complete with in-house cranes (I think, happy to be corrected on this point):

is quite fun, it does mean that getting to a chemist becomes disproportionately difficult, in the end I hired a taxi to take me.  And, once you get there, whilst it took no great acting ability to give a sense as to what was wrong, there was no help in choosing suitable stuff to take, alas, pharmacists here are only really shopkeepers.  And, when I went to bed early (considered asking for extra blankets but didn't in the end) on the night of the gala dinner, I was told the following day how much I would have enjoyed it.  Really?  With now little change out of half a century of life experience, I am not to be given credit for having some sense as to how I would have coped that evening had I gone?

Took advantage of speaking briefly at the leaving do for our second year students to do a quick bit of research as to how international a stereotype it s that men winge endlessly about being ill whilst women just get on with it.  Sure enough, in all countries represented - Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Canada, Brazil, UK and Pakistan - this is indeed received wisdom, is that enough data to make a global generalisation?  I suppose not, but this does seem to be a lot of countries in different parts of the world.  Point I was making is that we can continue to think about the world, make conjectures, look to find connections, even when things aren't going our way.

So, today, trying to do normal kind of Sunday things - by an effort of the will took myself off to church, and am now writing this blog entry.  Hope to be back to normal soon.  Meanwhile, I'll defy stereotypes by not winging, just finding a quiet corner in which to feel sorry for myself....

4 Comments to 18/5/14: it's OK, it's not dengue fever:

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David Mansergh on 19 May 2014 15:43
Hi Geoff, I'm sorry to hear you have been unwell and hope that you feel better soon. I'm glad the cranes at the hotel were birds rather than building site accessories! Do keep up the blogging despite the lack of comments. You were asking for suggestions - can we have some proof that your hair has grown back? Best wishes, David.
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Geoff on 19 May 2014 22:57
Thanks David, good to hear from you. In fact have had a private comment or two. Re: hair, have had it cut twice since the big event in January - and have to say, having had the hair off altogether, do actually like having it short.... Will post a picture soon. Trust everything's going well for you, Geoff

Jenny Spence on 15 June 2014 14:18
They are Marabou Storks rather than cranes. Cranes would be much prettier!
Reply to comment
Geoff on 16 June 2014 22:37
Thank you, Jenny, wildlife never was my strong point! Cranes are the national bird in Uganda which is pretty close by to Arusha, which is why that was my opening gambit. Apologies for the quality of the picture... Trust you're all well, Geoff

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