Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Leapers of Leapington

We are making steady progress on our journey down the River Oooze to discover it's source.

Today, we passed through the moat around Homeward and began our exploration of my vast domain.

A most extraordinary sight greeted our eyes, as we passed around the river bend, opposite Leapington Tower.

All along the bank of the river were hordes of men, in business attire, leaping, for all their worth, high into the air.

"Oh, yes" remarked my brother Rudolph coolly "These folk do this every four years - you see, all the inhabitants of Leapington Tower were born on the 29th February." he explained.

A Leap Year, as you may know, is a year containing one additional day in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in a whole number of days, a calendar that had the same number of days in each year would, over time, drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track. By occasionally inserting an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected.

For example, in the Homeward calendar, February in a leap year has 29 days instead of the usual 28, so the year lasts 366 days instead of the usual 365.

"You see," continued Rudolph "they leap to celebrate their birthday and their extraordinary good fortune!"

"I would hardly have thought that having a birthday only every four years would be something to celebrate!" I countered.

"But you see, dear brother, they are all as rich Croesus! Nowhere near as rich as you, of course, but still extremely well off! Do you realise that Leapington Tower is the only tower in Homeward that you don't own?" said Rudolph.

"I am astounded, that means that they must have bought it off old Wizard Blenkinsop before I bought Homeward! How in heavens name did they come by this fortune merely by an accident of birth?" I declared.

"Well," revealed Rudolph "Every single inhabitant is an offshore company - and because the 29th of February only exists every four years, other companies pay them a vast sum on this day so that it immediately disappears - because the day does not exist! The company then, having mysteriously lost the money, does not have to pay tax on it - in fact they can show a loss and get a rebate! Then the Leapingtons give the money back less one percent! All those one percents add up you know! It's a brilliant scam - the British Banks have been using the Leapingtons for years! "

Astounding - I'm surprised the British government has let them get away with it.

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