Don't you just love algebra? (I've found a nice example* for anyone who wants a challenge). You know the kind of thing. You start with "let x equal the number of butchers' dogs/fleas in the fleapit/guests at the royal wedding" or whatever, and then - oh then, dear readers - the fun begins. In comes y (to represent numbers of butchers' cats, for instance) and even sometimes z, and you have to work out what it all means.
As I said to my non-mathematical, panic-stricken granddaughter last week, algebra doesn't matter. Unless you are going to be a scientist (she isn't), you will never need x. Trust me. I have never for one minute required x (or y, or z) although it was all drilled into me by the hapless, humourless Miss Rowland, whose mantra (to me) was always 'Frances, you should have learnt that in the first form'. She refused to explain further, having apparently done it all before, so I remained ignorant. And do I regret it? Not a jot. I can see that if you're good at this kind of thing it might have a certain fascination, but speaking for myself, it most certainly had not. All I have ever needed maths-wise is simple addition and subtraction, and the times tables.
*Solve the following equation. 2(2x +1) - 3(x - 1) = 8 (I'm afraid there aren't any prizes, as I've no idea what the anwer is.)