JIM GIBBONS WRITES: Ryde town charges a precept for community tax. The attached graph shows the amount Ryde has charged for each band D property since then plus that for next year. Those amounts are, in rounded-up pounds over the past 11 years, 23, 23, 36, 37, 38, 49, 64, 83, 94,115 and 137.

To someone of my interests, the curious thing is how smooth the increase has been. The first two years had total precepts of £200,000, round figures until the council had more details to go on. Thereafter, apart from a slight bump in year eight (2015/16), the amounts are so regular the amateur mathematician in me was tempted to find a formula.

Treating 2009/10 as year 1, my solution is: band D charge for year x is 20+(x*x-x)*1.063, which is a pretty good fit but you may be able to do better; let me know.

Having done that I was led to extrapolate to forecast the succeeding year 12 (2020/21). Extrapolation is always a risky, (indeed foolish) business, and I wouldn’t bet money on it, but my forecast for that year is: 20+(12*12-12)*1.063 =20+132*1.063=£160ish

I’ll let you know next year how I got on — remind me!

However, most people, including me with my other hat on, would just look at the graph and shudder.

Much of it, of course, is due to liabilities being transferred from county to town; I suspect that some of it is caused by Ryde’s engagingly ingenuous habit of asking people to nominate good causes for which they can confiscate more of our money. This brings to mind the “Forgotten man” to whom I have alluded before. 

W. G. Sumner in a lecture said (I shorten slightly): “It is a common experience that A feels that X is suffering unduly. A talks it over with B and they decide to help. They get a law passed to help the unfortunate X — so everyone is happy, yes? No — we have forgotten C. C is the forgotten man.” C is the great mass of people who have no say in the matter, the people who pay.

Here is an easier problem to tax your brains: suppose you are looking at a newspaper with 100 pages, but no un-numbered or differently-numbered sections, all pages are in the one numbered sequence. In your mind, find page 83,which is in the second half of the paper. Page 84 is of course on the back of it. Got it? Now pull that whole sheet out, bringing with it a sheet from the first half of the paper. The question is, what are the page numbers on the left hand sheet?  And what is the general rule, in terms of the total pages and the specified page number?

Last month’s quote: “When you go home…” was by John Maxwell Edmunds. But who wrote: “In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra.”?