Every other Sunday the Right Reverend Llewelyn Bidley-Spaulding motors in his classic antique Bentley from Meadowshire to Chichesterton-Upon-Hogg to visit professionally his old friend, Sir Alistair Chichester. In the 14th-century private chapel attached to Baldershanks, the baronial mansion that has housed the Chichester clan from time immemorial, the Reverend administers holy communion to Sir Alistair.
Afterwards, over a tidy supper of jugged hare, new potatoes, garden peas, and spotted dick, the Reverend Bidley-Spaulding and Sir Alistair make serene small talk about matters appertaining to the topmost levels of the upper crust.
Retiring thereupon to Sir Alistair’s leather-bound-tome-ridden library, the two worthies — Christ’s and the Queen’s — sink comfortably into padded armchairs to savor the port and cigars brought with deferential haughtiness by Wadsworth, the butler. It is then the Reverend gives sage counsel to Sir Alistair touching on strategies with which to evade eternal perdition.
Challenge your trifling faculties now with a bit of nonsense posed for the crying need of your edification: It involves a calculation of the expenditure by the parish occasioned by the Reverend Bidley-Spaulding’s personal ministrations in support of the salvation of Sir Alistair’s immortal soul.
Assume, though your essential means of locomotion is undoubtedly a rusting velocipede, that you are dimly aware of the price of a litre of petrol — perhaps from having shared a pint of piddling stout with your lady’s chauffeur at the tawdry little tavern on the low end of Chichesterton-Upon-Hogg — we can’t be bothered to recall its name.
Assume, in further pursuit of this all-too-polite fiction lending you credence undeserved by one of your station, that you possess a greater than bovine grasp of the number of kilometers that a pristine 1937 Bentley in fine tune will traverse on a litre of petrol.
Finally, subscribe for a moment to the wildly daft supposition that you have a tinker’s inkling of the annual amount of the Reverend Bidley-Spaulding’s general stipend, exclusive of allowances and contingencies, as paid by the parish he serves with noteworthy divinity.
Question: What else must one know (if anything) in order to express numerically the investment the parish makes for the securement of Sir Alistair’s heavenly reward?
(A) The distance from Meadowshire to Chichesterton-Upon-Hogg;
(B) The rate of speed at which the Reverend Bidley-Spaulding drives his Bentley;
(C) The sum of Sir Alistair’s contributions to the parish’s cathedral fund;
(D) The time lapse from when the Reverend leaves the parsonage to when he returns;
(E) None of the above;
(F) I am far too dense to reach a plausible conclusion.
If your answer is “F,” you have evinced a laudable self-awareness unusual in your sort. Receive our assurances that we have taken brief notice.
(Social Math — UK, Copyright 2018 James Mansfield Nichols. All rights reserved.)