To be honest I don’t fully remember who was responsible for this – my memory’s telling me that it could have been Tristan, or Alex.  Back at the tender age of 13-15ish I used to do quite a lot of ten pin bowling, and every Saturday morning mum would drive me down to Cross Road Bowl for the Saturday morning Junior League.  We’d often give Tristan a lift, as he lived around the corner.  Then, later in the morning once we’d finished bowling and pratting about playing arcade games, Mum would give us a lift home.  I seem to recall Alex being in the car too – a mate of mine since primary school, and an A-class bullshit artist in his own right.

It might not have been on the way home from bowling – it could have been on the way out to one of the Intercentre bowling events, where the Cross Road Juniors would compete against the crew from Norwood Bowl, Woodville Bowl, Noarlunga Bowl, or any of the other AMF-owned centres which seemed impossible distances away…  actually, now I think of the non-ending prattle that we just to carry on with, I feel a sense of pity for my mum having to drive us all that way.  As an adult, those distances don’t seem long at all – but at the time they *felt* like they took ages to travel.  It can only have felt like longer if you were on the spectator end of our ceaseless torrent of nonsense.

Irrespective of where or when it happened, we were sitting in a car and somebody piped up with the idiom “Two’s company, three’s a crowd”.  And to this day I can’t help but offer the rest:

Four is two companies.
Five is a crowd and a company.
Six is 3 companies or 2 crowds.
Seven is 2 companies and a crowd.
Eight is 4 companies or 2 crowds and a company.
Nine is 3 crowds or  3 companies and a crowd.
Ten is 5 companies or 2 companies and 2 crowds.
Eleven is 3 crowds and a company or 4 companies and a crowd.

By this point most audiences drift off and start inspecting the paintwork.

Twelve is 4 crowds, 6 companies, or 2 crowds and 3 companies.
Thirteen is 5 companies and a crowd, or 3 crowds and 2 companies.
Fourteen is 7 companies, 4 companies and 2 crowds, or 4 crowds and a company.
Fifteen is 5 crowds, 6 companies and a crowd, or 3 crowds and 3 companies.

Sometimes these come out in different order, and it also depends on whether – if anyone’s still listening – it looks like they’re interested in hearing more than one crowd/company combination for each total.

I vaguely recall – and this might be totally wrong, in case anyone can correct this – after something like the above sequence had been worked out (but slower, because our brains hadn’t precompiled this lot yet):

Tristan: Ok smartarse, what’s Twenty then?
Alex: Oh that’s easy – an Association.

Yeah, wasn’t really that funny then, either.

(the falconry picture on the front page is utterly unrelated to this post – I just thought it was a good excuse to post it)

Social mathematics?
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