Written for another publication. Though some of you might enjoy?
In 2005 I was teaching A Level Mathematics in a Grammar School in Kent. Mathematics being a 'hard subject' I considered my class of 15 to be some of the cleverest people in the area.
Recently, to great publicity, the Turner Contemporary Gallery had opened at Margate and the evening before Simon Starling had indeed won the Turner Prize for buying a shed, turning it into a boat, floating it down the Rhine, and then turning it back into a shed, winning £20,000.
On the classroom wall I kept a framed photograph of a yacht I owned - when things were getting bad I'd look at it and think 'hang on in there and you can go sailing this weekend and forget about school' - it kept me sane!.
The class that afternoon were busy with some difficult calculations as I mused out loud, wondering whether it would be possible to turn my boat into a shed and then back into a boat, and win £20,000.
The class had no idea what I was talking about and refused to believe how the Prize had been won.
I sent one of the pupils to the library to get a newspaper and read them the report, proving that I was not 'having them on' as they had suspected.
I then asked them 'And why is it called the Turner prize?' and was shocked to find that not one of them knew!
I told them all to put down their pens and listen, explaining whilst mathematics was a wonderful subject which should lead them to a well paid professional job, it was important that they had a well rounded learning, and that one day they might be at a dinner party with all their middle class equals and would feel foolish if they did not know 'general knowledge' things such as this.
I then explained that many years ago there had been a married pair of popular singers Ike and Tina Turner. I explained that they had had a big hit with River Deep and Mountain High but this had been followed by a very acrimonious divorce. I further told them that Tina Turner had been a great supporter of British Contemporary Art and with part of her divorce settlement had set up a fund to award £20,000 to the best example of Contemporary British Art which was to be known as the Turner Prize in her honour.
I advise them to remember all this as when they are at the aforementioned dinner party, rather than appearing foolish if the Turner Prize comes up, they would be able to join in the conversation showing their background knowledge of its funding.
They then got back to the maths.
So dear reader, if some young man at a dinner party tells you that Tina Turner founded the Turner Prize, please try to keep a straight face so that others later might have a laugh at the young man's lunatic ideas, but do give him fondest regards from his old Maths teacher,