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William Phelps, marking exam papers shortly before Christmas one year, came across a curious answer to one of his more perplexing questions:

"God only knows the answer to this question. Merry Christmas."

Phelps returned the paper with the following annotation: "God gets an A, you get an F -- Happy New Year!"

["At the turn of the 18th century, Christmas could be downright dangerous. Back then, it was customary for bands of young men to go door to door, demanding food and drink in exchange for a song. If nothing was proffered, the gang was apt to trash the house... the holiday was often just another excuse for thuggery. In 1828, New York City established its first professional police force in response to a Christmas riot." (Harrowsmith Country Life, Dec. 2002)]

[A clergyman's wife in St Albans once had her application for a Marks and Spencer credit card returned because, in answer to the qusetion, "Who is your husband's employer?" she had simply written: "God."]

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