Headers in footer and the intellectually challenged

I was running along the inside left channel, hardly able to see. The rain, lashing down, was turning my spectacle lenses into something approaching the patterned glass of the bathroom door. The ground under my feet squelched and I am sure that my private parts had withdrawn to warmer climes inside my body. Football on the school field circa 1957. I remember the ball coming over as I reached the penalty area and, in an act of sheer bravado, I rose to meet it, despite its sodden leather weight and clumsily tied cord lace. By some miracle, it turns out, my team centre forward, Norman, noted for his massive thighs and obdurate head, barged me aside and headed the ball into the net.

The miracle is this. On the BBCs website today it is revealed that concussion sustained in adolescence can have effects that last for thirty or more years. In tests, those that achieved prowess in contact sports, or who simply fell on their heads in odd acts of carelessness, were outscored consistently in maths and problem solving, when compared with those, like myself, who either ducked cranial contact or were too inept to manage it.

It seemed to me, on reading this, that here was an explanation of how women appear to get better, intellectually, with age and many men seem to stand still. After all that sport, followed by regular banging of their heads against the wall because they can’t get right answers in their jobs or in the home, some men seem to give up and start reaching for their slippers at the age of forty or so while women (apart from those intent on shattering the glass ceiling by leaping upwards) rise to new challenges and responsibilities.

Then again, thinking about my increasing lack of control over the simplest operations of memory, I may have suffered some blow to the head of which I am now unaware. Perhaps I blacked out and the details of the event never came back to me. As, for example, when the maths teacher, one J. A. Brown, or JAB for short, went round the class with a blackboard T square, thumping heads that couldn’t manage equations, heads that had just come off a wintry sports field. I have no notion as to whether I was one of his victims but I am pretty certain all the other boys suffered near decapitation. And I wasn’t that good at equations.

It’s an interesting fact of this new research, is it not, that those that had knowledge beaten into them at school, are, in their later years, unlikely now to manage more than SATs Stage One, if I’ve got the right name for it. I can’t quite remember.

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