Pythagoras' Theorem, and other pointless things from school still taking up space in your head

DESPITE having left school many, many years ago, there are still some absolutely useless pieces of learning clogging up your brain…

Oxbow lakes

It beggars belief that so much time was spent teaching you that some lakes are shaped slightly like beans. Or, more correctly, an obsolete harness for a castrated bull. We invented the tractor ages ago, you know. Your Year 9 teacher was full of shit.

Shakespeare quotes

You had to rote learn them for exams, but let’s see how useful knowing ‘Sweet are the uses of adversity, which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head’ is when you’ve got to change the tyre on a Vauxhall Astra on a busy A-road.

Pythagoras’ theorem

If school’s to believed, triangles are going to play an incredibly important role in your adult life. Well, unless you’re a mathematician or a pyramid architect this is horseshit. But you’ll still have nonsense about hypotenuses popping into your head while you’re trying to remember your PIN in Tesco.

Planets in the solar system

Knowing the order of the planets in the solar system might be helpful if you ever appear on a quiz show. But failing that, it is utterly irrelevant to your daily life to know that Uranus is further from the sun than Saturn. ‘Uranus’ isn’t even sidesplittingly hilarious once you’re older than 35.

The periodic table

There are the names of some 100 metals and gases rattling around your head. Having the word ‘cadmium’ pointlessly burned into your brain, without even really knowing what it is, is the reason you can never remember your niece’s name. 

How to throw a javelin

Not being a hunter-gatherer or an Olympian, teaching children to ‘correctly’ hurl spears across a field was a waste of time. There’s a slim chance Brexit food shortages might make hunting with a spear relevant again, but you were rubbish at it anyway. 


For some bizarre reason, when you were so young you could barely write in your actual first language, you were made to spend several weeks learning how to copy a select few hieroglyphs. Now, even if you discovered time travel, you’d be busy getting rich from it, not visiting Ancient Egypt and contracting plagues.

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Nick Fletcher's crime wave terror level female Doctor Who scale

AS Conservative MP for Don Valley, I’m an expert in crime, terrorism, and declining masculinity caused by Doctor Who. Here’s how they correspond: 

Alert Level One: Media representations such as Daddy Pig and Hugh Bonneville in Paddington being mocked by their own families causes petty crime like littering or public urination, and terrorist acts such as not saluting portraits of the Queen. 

Alert Level Two: More insidious media, such as that Captain Marvel film or a Lara Croft who’s barely a B-cup cause young men to take up shoplifting and write graffiti on bus stops. Terrorists are emboldened to openly protest against government policies. Real men like myself feel dejected. 

Alert Level Three: Where we are now. A female Doctor Who, female Ghostbusters, and Wonder Woman a role model even though she’s childless. Causes knife crime, car thefts and county lines drug dealing. Terrorists plot attacks. Men like myself begin to suffer premature ejaculation. 

Alert Level Four: Civilisation in crisis. A gay female Luke Skywalker in a relationship with a Wookie sparks riots. City centres become no-go areas for white heterosexual males. Parliament is bombed by a resurgent al-Qaeda. Real men struggle with impotence. 

Alert Level Five: The world burns. All-trans Harry Potter reboot announced. Britain collapses into civil war with blue-haired queer gangs and Islamist terrorists fighting in the ruins. I personally am accused of micropenis and have no answer to the charge. 

Alert Level Six: Apocalypse. The new James Bond is announced and it’s a woman. The final franchise tentpole separating man from savage beasts is gone. Death holds dominion everywhere. I begin to watch gay porn, the kind with men in. The nuclear holocaust comes as a blessing.