Moonlighting agony uncle Professor Dirichlet answers your personal problems. Want the prof’s help? Send your problems to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a successful author on spies who are also fish, I’m looking to branch out a little. What with the number of streaming platforms, I’m hoping I can get a TV company to make my series of novels into a ten-episode drama. But it feels like a buyers’ market—how can I hook a producer? Let minnow!
— Micholas Herron, Oxford
May I recommend the school market. Each year there is a new set of 7-year-olds looking to be entertained. For example, I am about to pitch the BBC my Downton Abbey / second world war / great railway infrastructure crossover series for children, with all the characters played by simple 3D shapes. I have already written to Cube-onneville, Dame Sphera Lynne and Prismbard Kingdom Brunel. (Still waiting for a reply from the latter two; Cube’s on board.)
For my birthday this year my partner bought me some new jeans. But when I get them out of the wardrobe, I always find matchsticks in the pockets! During the day, my partner will come over, put his hand in one of my pockets, and pull out some of the matches! Am I supposed to do the same? Does he not remember the moral from 1990s public information film Frances the Firefly?… Never play with matches!
— The Wrong Trousers, Wigan
Félicitations! You’ve been given the latest in French fashion: couture deNim! But also com-misère-ations: nobody’s going to remove the last matchstick for you. If you’re happy to play along, sew up all but two pockets and keep the sticks in each pocket equal. Failing that, I suggest an eXORcism to heal these obviously cursed jeans. A word to the wise: run away if your partner offers you chocolate where you are only allowed to eat squares if you also eat those that are below it and to its right.
I’m putting on a hilarious satirical political play at the Zoom theatre next month but I am having difficulty finding the right actors for the job. One brilliant scene involves multiple copies of the chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster chattering over each other. Genius! Not sure why I can’t find any faces so far.
— Kimberly Donglesworth, Newcastle
In general, when drawing up your CAST, one should go anticlockwise from the fourth quadrant. But anyway, pop along to your local colliery and see if you can convince a square number of employees there to stand on an oversized chessboard. Ask everyone on a white square to stand on their heads. Bob’s your uncle! Your matrix of miners has become a matrix of ‘Gove actors’.
It’s all gone wrong! Our village is running an event to drum up some business from visitors to the local safari park, but we’ve attracted the wrong sort of guests—the animals have escaped! Huge beasts are marauding over the the village’s central grass area, which we repurposed for the festival tents. How can we get rid of the invaders? We don’t have the skills!
— Ray & Dave, Devon
Sounds like a mammoth task – but ivorything’s going to be OK. Given that you’ve already set up the village Green’s function, just keep the noise down: you want the volume nice and discrete. Then naturally the animals should head to the village outskirts. I call this… the boundary elephant method. (Pass my regards to the catering team: as Hank ‘Hankie’ Williams used to say, “Hey Galerkin, what you got cookin’?”)
Over lockdown I have become a bit of a Twitter celebrity. How do I capitalise on my success?
— Brabara Barrington, Wellington
ON MY SUCCESS.
Heed Professor Dirichlet’s previous advice:
More from Chalkdust
- Did you solve it?
- Sus Mafia strategies, LMS president Ulrike Tillmann, and Bae's theorem 😍 all feature in our latest edition. Plus all your favourite puzzles & columns.
- Issue 13 is here! Find out how to get involved with our mathematical art launch project
- We hear arguments for and against this controversial convention
- Have your say
- Fashion is fleeting, Chalkdust regulars are not.