LIKE thousands of my generation and after, the times table was a dreaded but accepted part of school life.

We didn’t question it, we just learned them by heart. Unfortunately, tables seemed to become less important, even though they’re on the National Curriculum. Now, though, schools’ minister Nick Gibb is stressing that children must learn tables by the age of nine and this makes all kinds of sense.

They figure in the new assessments for children but, for many of us, times tables have figured in all areas of life from work expenses to shopping bills. They just underpin everything.