Wherever you are in the world, I'm available for mathematics tuition on Zoom to all levels. I have over 30 years experience teaching one-to-one tutorials in specialist colleges in Oxford, and I am familiar with GCSE, A-level, and IB syllabuses. Student feedback reinforces my perception that my style is calm, clear, and non-judgemental. I think it is important that errors are viewed productively. We need to take what can be learned from them and then move on. This also applies to life. Learn from mistakes for the benefit of the future and forget past errors. The concept of 'sin' does not exist for me. I have a two-camera Zoom set-up with one camera focused on me (see right) and the other on my writing pad on the desk. This allows easy communication of mathematical arguments. I have a professional studio allocated to teaching with a broadcast quality camera and a three-point lighting arrangement.
Main camera in Zoom tutorial
I was born in the sleepy countryside in Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. My early years were filled with the impressions of open fields, fresh-water rivers, and tranquil summers. My mother had a piano in the house which she could play well, and even before school age I recall being fascinated by its harmonies and note patterns. At the age of nine, I wrote puppet plays which I enacted with a friend at school in their puppet theater. I also wrote plays for my classmates. One I recall involved four children in a boat. The bottom of the boat sprang a leak, someone inserted his thumb in the hole, and when they got back to land they had the problem of extracting the boy's thumb. So they used a tug-o'war to do it! I also enjoyed composing songs on the school glockenspiel. At 10 years old I composed an alternative melody for 'The Cropper's Song'. These early childhood interests persist to this day: I later made short films using local actors, and I eventually became proficient playing guitar. About a year later, my father moved the family to Heckmondwike in West Yorkshire where he had found a job as an engineer.
Unfortunately, the piano was left behind. There I attended the local grammar school, but apart from algebra, chess, and soccer I felt uninspired and so I left at 16 years old to work for a local engineering company. It was at this time that I began to draw cartoon strips for local newspapers.
Cartoon strip I drew for the Spenborough Guardian at age 16
When I left school I had no direction and was completely lost. My father found me an apprenticeship at a local engineering company, and there I nearly got fired for bored inactivity but managed to carry my toolbox for 3 years before 100% in my ONC mathematics exam secured a place at Hull University to read physics. My undergraduate years were spent trying to master Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, a very difficult philosophy classic. I also spent my time reading the original papers in quantum physics by Bohr, Einstein, Planck, Rayleigh, and Wien, which were mostly in German and which kind physics tutors translated for me. With such distractions, I had only 3 months before the final examination to learn the physics course. In consequence, I obtained only an average physics degree although I still managed to obtain either first or second place (I haven't discovered which) out of 92 students in the mathematics component of the course. In 1984, I obtained an MSc degree by thesis in theoretical physics and subsequently published two papers on perturbation methods in quantum mechanics (perturbation series for transition moments, structure of perturbation series).
I moved to London in 1989 to write fund management software for a life insurance company in the City. It was during this happy period that I wrote comedy sketches for BBC TV (Alas Smith and Jones, Little and Large) and busked Jimi Hendrix style numbers on my Fender Stratocaster in the London Underground.
My contribution to The Daily Telegraph Brain Twister column began in 1989 under Val Gilbert and to date over 1500 puzzles have been published. My role has fluctuated between sole and part contributor and many books have followed (see BOOKS). In 2004, I was consultant for BBC4 TV Mindgames on which my HAIL CLIP puzzle was featured (see left), and also assisted on Channel 4's Child Genius.
The puzzle is to make a single cut with a pair of scissors and move half of the letters to spell HAIL CLIP.
In 1991, I moved to Oxford to work as a mathematics tutor, which is still my main occupation today. Four years later, I set up Liquid Colour productions with Desmond Lee Dubber (lighting cameraman) and Susie Berry (sets and costumes) in order to make short films. These I wrote, directed and edited (using FAST VM Studio, and Adobe Premier). David Mitchell and Robert Webb were early collaborators. In 1997, Liquid Colour was commissioned to make comedy sketches for Beadle's Hotshots on ITV, four of which were broadcast. The highlights of our subsequent productions are the following (click to view): Don't Feed the Demon, The Bath in the Garden, and Horace and Doris.
Directing Beadle's Hotshots comedy sketches aged 38
The solution is to make an octogonal cut as shown above and rotate the outer part counter clockwise. That way only half (the top half) of the letters are moved!
I had the good fortune to work on Horace and Doris with David Yates who went on to direct Harry Potter (his name appears in the end credits)! We spent a fascinating time walking around my proposed locations for the film, discussing film history, and story-telling techniques. I admired his enthusiasm. Several short film awards materialised including Gold Seal awards from the IAC, Third Place Drama at the Nottingham Film Festival 1999, and Top Twenty (out of over 400 entries) at the BAVA awards.
Trying to be amusing aged 38
In 2004, I became interested in the Shakespeare authorship problem and realised that the Stratford man could not have had access to the 1594-5 Gray's Inn Christmas revels where The Comedy of Errors had its first known performance (see SHAKESPEARE section). This ruled him out both from performing the play and having a play of his performed. Using the Early English Books Online (EEBO) database for rare phrase analysis, I also realised that Sir Francis Bacon was indicated as a contributor to Love's Labour's Lost (which was intended but was unperformed at the 1594-5 revels) and The Tempest (which was connected to the Virginia colony). Bacon was a member of Gray's Inn and a Virginia Company subscriber. Shakespeare was not. My PhD in 2014 investigated these problems and it was passed without amendment (highest grade). I had the pleasure of talking for many hours with Sir Mark Rylance on these issues and he kindly agreed to write a seven-page foreword for my book, Francis Bacon's Contribution to Shakespeare: A New Attribution Method which was published by Routledge in 2019. I also provided a recorded presentation on the Gray's Inn revels for the Shakespeare Authorship Trust Conference 2020.
My cartoon: Oliver's digeridoo with lodging bird
My cartoon: Leonardo's bathtime
My present work is on developing a physics idea I had at 17 years old, that a more visual representation of the most basic element hydrogen is needed. I subsequently published two academic books with World Scientific Publishing: The Quantum Puzzle: A Critique of Quantum Physics and Electrodynamics, and The Vortex Atom: A New Paradigm. I am now running experimental computer programs to improve on the model.
So that's a survey of all the hard work I've done trying to understand and master various fields of endeavour. Most of it has been solitary and it has certainly taken up most of my free time. However, an equally important part of myself is my willingness to help others. I helped build an ophanage in Uganda a few years ago so that 32 toddlers who were sleeping on the concrete floor of a barn and whose parents had died of AIDS could live in a sheltered building with bunk beds and mattresses. It seemed ridiculous to me that I had spare cash and they had absolutely nothing, not even a pair of shoes. I don't reveal this to gain credit. I say it because it's the most rewarding act I've been engaged in, and I recommend that if you want to feel good about yourself then do something for others. As Francis Bacon said in his essay from 1612 "Of great riches, there is no real use, except it be in the distribution: the rest is but conceit".
Great Compassion Uganda orphanage in 2016