Neil once got hit on the head by a board rubber hurled by Mr Davidson with what, forty years later, would be called semi-active laser guidance during a geography class. He says it was worth a hairful of chalk, as he had just shared some verse from that morning's English lesson on Chaucer's The Miller's Tale with his mate Robert Cotton. The verse was (and stop us if you've heard this one) describing when Absolon interrupts Nicholas and Alison during a session of 'hote love', and she playfully summons the parish clerk to the open window:
Derk was the night as pich, or as the cole,
And at the window out she putte hir hole
And Absolon, him fil no bet ne wers,
But with his mouth he kiste hir naked ers
Ful savourly, er he was war of this
It is possible you had to have been there ('there' being Canterbury in 1387), but this was raw porn to Neil and Cotton, and their snorts of delight were interrupted by the thud of board rubber meeting head and the subsequent splattering of chalk down Neil's trousers.
"Who's this Chaucer then?" asked Tracee, receiving an eye-roll of Red Arrows' proportion from Neil in response.
Don't you lot get taught anything these days? Take 'quarter days'. How do you not know that the specific date of the quarter day is directly related to the number of days spelling out the relevant month? For example, take March. March has five letters, so the date of the quarter day is 25 March. Then June, four letters in the month, the date of the quarter day being the 24th. The one we will get this coming week, in the month of S-E-P-T-E-M-B-E-R will happen, as it always does on ... the 29th. See? Good, classic education.
On Tuesday we steal a glance at the results of the latest skirmishes between commercial landlords and their tenants. For this is the quarter day when shop and restaurant landlords traditionally collect one of four blocks of yearly rent. We in the NTI newsroom bet they are looking forward to this with renewed optimism, based primarily on the belief that 'nothing can be as bad as June'.
Two months after the June rent day, landlords had collected nearly 70 per cent of money owed to them, up from just over 18 per cent on the due date, according to analysts at property software firm Re-Leased. Every media report (every bloody day for three long, tedious months) has keened mournfully about the end-of-lockdown and the dribble back to work by some workers, peaked at from behind twitching curtains by those in casual gear remaining at home to check their Zoom schedule for the day. The refusal to accept a 'new-normal', endorsed by the Government's latest message to work from home unless you are an astronaut or a spy, means that the results for landlords this week will be as woeful as those attained by the Covid-19 fast-track and trace labs in the early summer.
Since 16 March, just over half of retail rents and just under 70 per cent of leisure rents have been subject to some form of renegotiation, according to consultancy Remit. Even the Queen of landlords does not remain unaffected, although she struggles to explain the situation to her husband who has spent the last 18 months looking for the keys to his Land Rover Freelander. As reported by the NTI newsroom on this very screen, the Crown Estate have struggled to collect just over 50 per cent of the rent due from its commercial tenants and, as reported last week, Shaftesbury, one of the biggest landlords in central London, say tenants have only paid half the rent due since March.
We at NTI, of course, will report all the latest news as and when it happens (and often, just before). For now, once last lesson for you. If you want to know the number of days in a month, without having to resort to some verse when you have to rhyme September with something which could go either way. Make fists of both of your hands and join them together. Every knuckle (ie the sticky up bit) represents a month with 31 days (starting with January). The bit between knuckles (medically known as 'the flat bit') represents a month with 30 days or, in the unique example of February, 28 or 29. Joining your hands together means you can see that July and August, being next door to each other, are the only consecutive months with 31 days. Problem solved.