Biography

I was born in 1960, as Jonathan Paul Griffiths, in Dartford, Kent.
In 1963, we moved to Malaysia, my father working as a water engineer, and my mother as a hospital doctor.
In 1968, we returned to England, and settled in Kent once more.

I spent my secondary school years on a state scholarship at Dulwich College,
a public school in London and a flagship for the direct grant experiment of the time.
Unaware then of the politics of privilege, I enjoyed greatly the music, maths and sport on offer.
In 1977, I won a Mathematics Scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge,
spending two terms out teaching at Great Walstead School in Sussex.

At Cambridge I found the maths to be, for the most part, dry and tough going.
I took a Part One in Mathematics and a Part Two in Education (including half a Part Two in Maths),
graduating in 1982 with a BA Hons, together with a Cert Ed enabling me to teach mathematics in secondary schools.
In my second year I was awarded the Thurkill Prize, given to recognise notable contributions to Clare College life.

While we were at Clare together in 1981, the musician Harvey Brough asked me to join Harvey and the Wallbangers.
We went full–time in 1983, and we stayed that way until 1987.
We were first and foremost a vocal harmony group, but we all played instruments too.
We did lots of television, including Wogan, Russell Harty and The Jasper Carrot Show.
We had a series on Radio Two, and played the Royal Variety Show in 1984 (a particularly surreal gig).
We made six commercial recordings on our own label, and at the end of our career,
we were invited to work with Simon Rattle on his Jazz Album.
Our final gig in this country was to a full Sadler's Wells.

In September 1987, I became a maths teacher at St Philip Howard 11-16 Comprehensive School in Tower Hamlets.
The change from the world of stage, television and recording studio
to comprehensive classroom proved to be dramatic - probably too dramatic.
I resigned from St Philip Howard in 1989, and started work at St Dominic's Sixth Form College in Harrow–on–the–Hill,
a wonderfully impressive place of learning that I left in the summer of 1992.
In the middle of my time at St Dom's, I began an MSc in Computer Studies at Imperial College, London,
but sadly my health at the time didn't allow me to complete it.

Meanwhile, Clare Bradley, the writer of the children's television programme Playdays
invited me to play a character called Stringfellow on the show, who appeared in four programmes altogether.
I was able to write some of his songs as we went along.

In the summer of 1992, I moved to Paston College in Norfolk.
My Paston career was as a mathematics teacher, but I also worked with students on music and juggling.
There were the inevitable ups and downs, but I had some of the happiest times of my working life there.
In 2005-6 I was a Gatsby Fellow for the year, writing my Risps website in the process.
This site was followed by my Making Statistics Vital site in 2008, and my Carom site in 2011.

I’ve also been able to renew my mathematics education in the past twenty years
with the help of the Open University, and the University of East Anglia,
where I finally won my MSc, in mathematical research.
Given this second chance at university mathematics, the subject came alive for me once again,
and I'm eternally grateful to both institutions.

After leaving Paston in 2015, I spent eighteen months working for Underground Mathematics,
where polishing exam question solutions into their clearest possible shape was quietly satisfying.
I've also worked on textbooks with Hodder, and written investigative resources for MEI/Integral.
In the autumn of 2016, Integral hosted its Ritangle competition, suggested by and authored by yours truly.
Writing Ritangle 2017 is already under way...
The chance to tutor students online has also been a fulfilling way to earn a crust.

Meg and I met in 1994; I was visiting the school where she works,
and she remembers the first words she said to me
as I appeared a little lost were, ‘Are you looking for someone?’
We became engaged three months later, and tied the knot in 1995.