Tantalizer 465: Decline and fall
20 December 2017
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From New Scientist #1016, 2nd September 1976 [link]
Paul Pennyfeather, you will recall from Evelyn Waugh’s novel, was sent down from Oxford and went to teach in Dr Fagan’s horrid school at Llanaba Abbey. There he found that a class of the beastliest boys could be kept quiet till break by offering a prize of half a crown for the longest essay, irrespective of all possible merit. Now read on:
“Sir”, remarked Clutterbuck after break, “I claim the prize”.
“But you”, Paul protested feebly, “have written only one-third as many words as Ponsonby, one-fifth as many as Briggs and one-eighth as many as Tangent”.
“Nonetheless, Sir, Dr Fagan would certainly wish me to have the prize”.
And so it proved. You might also like to know that the oldest of these four boys wrote 2222 more words than the second oldest and used more full stops in his essay than any of them who wrote less words than the youngest.
Where was Clutterbuck in the order of age, and how many words did he write?