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Dara's advice still adds up when it comes to Hard Sums

DARA O'Brian's new series School of Hard Sums may do little to help those of us who suffer from acute Math Phobia, to whom the very idea of long division is likely to cause clenched fists and bullets of sweat.

Sure, Dara makes it all seem fun, but I can't help recalling an evening back in the day when the then-budding funnyman Dara met me in a pizza place on the quays to advise me on my stint as a stand-up at the Laughter Lounge for a Herald feature. In the event, it was the second most terrifying thing to a maths exam I'd ever experienced. But Dara's advice remains with me -- "Remember," he chortled, "bad language covers bad comedy -- so if in doubt, curse like a motherf*****"

And to this day I've applied this ethos to simple arithmetic. Whenever asked by my wife to help figure out the family finances, I begin fuming with expletives and the task is quickly taken away.