SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: New life and old games

Our doctor daughter trained at Worthing hospital before becoming a consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology in London.

Thursday, 20th April 2017, 10:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:53 pm
Sir Peter with a newborn lamb

It is always a delight to meet those who met her as colleagues or as a patient.

When I read her book on 100 illustrative cases, I felt some relief that I had been born male.

If her speciality had been in men’s conditions, I might have had a different opinion.

She has opened a competition for the best family photograph of a lamb born over the weekend. Mine is to the right.

Our extended family met for Easter on the Isle of Wight opposite Hayling Island. Some came to the Good Friday vigil.

Many more packed the small church on Easter Day.

About 70 of the family and hangers on with an age range from under one to over 90 made up half the congregation.

With two using wheelchairs, the priest-in-charge announced plans for step-free access and for other convenient facilities.

In the field leading to the beach, the grass is managed and fertilised by sheep. From May, the orchids and other wild flowers bloom.

It was not total chance that each morning new lambs were born.

Occasionally a fox was sent off; it knew and we knew that killing a lamb being born is not quite the thing.

What can be as exciting as watching a surviving lamb gambolling? One noisy one was named Baabara (sic).

I am a partial vegetarian. When serving as agriculture minister in Northern Ireland, I switched to calling myself a partial meat eater.

It means the same and made happier thousands of local farmers.

I do advise full vegetarians that without dead stock, there would be no livestock: I do want to see animals and birds in the fields.

The immediate bonding between ewes and lambs matches the dedication of human parents with their babies and their growing children.

One of my Easter enjoyments is helping teenagers have fun with maths.

This week we played with 1729, the Hardy–Ramanujan number.

If told it is the sum of two different pairs of cubed positive whole numbers, it is really quite easy to work out that the pairs are 1 with 12 and 9 with 10.

The advanced lesson is to allow the cube of a negative number, giving 4 with 3 and 6 with -5 as the pairs of cubes that make 91.

The story of how GH Hardy brought Srinivasa Ramanujan from what is now the Indian state of Tamil Nadu to Trinity College in Cambridge is amazing.

One test of any community is how the exceptional person can be recognised and appreciated.

Without making a direct comparison, we can think of the young Jesus aged 12 listening to and asking questions of the teachers in the Temple.

Recall too the achievements of the young Amadeus Mozart and of the youthful jewelry craftsmanship of Augustus Pugin, main designer of the present Palace of Westminster.

We manage to recognise the outstanding youthful talents of a diver like Tom Daley, Olympic gold medal sailors including Hannah Mills and Sir Ben Ainslie, and musicians including the composer Vangelis, singers Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder.

I was one of the also-rans, appearing in school soccer teams as AN Other during flu epidemics and later once raised £10,000 for Children in Need when sponsored to play the theme for Match of The Day at Wembley without making more than three mistakes.


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