Liberal-Leaning Think Tank Offers Glimmer Of Hope

Researchers at the Liberal-leaning think tank The Wartimes Acronyms Research Group - part of the prestigious University of Cambridge's Department of Linguistic Statistics - have offered a glimmer of hope today to those praying that the now infamous N.O.R.W.I.C.H. acronym discovered on the back of an envelope sent by Professor Thrupiece to his walking companion Miss Shelley-Lulette Sizemore in 2004 is in fact a clue to his whereabouts rather than a sentimental message of dubious import exchanged between the 54 year old Professor and his significantly younger "protege".

The group's research findings - the result of a detailed statistical survey of the everyday operational currency of the term N.O.R.W.I.C.H (and L.O.W.E.S.T.O.F.T) amongst the UK and Dorset male populations between 1967 and 21012 - reveal that by 2004 less than 1% of UK males and fractionally more than 0.5% of Dorset males used the term "on an occasional or regular basis". Lead scientist Dr Lordy Weidenfeld noted: "the figures are in every case small and evidence of a steadily declining position. The tenacious grip which such acronyms held during and immediately after the 1939-45 hostilities clearly loosened with time and we can add, after further detailed analysis, that the decline was also directly correlated with distance from Newton Heath, Manchester". For this reason, he continued, "it is not surprising that the fall off in Dorset is more marked than that for the UK as a whole".

Turning to the specific case of Professor Thrupiece and the likelihood of his deploying the term in 2004 in the manner investigated by Dr Weidenfeld's team, Dr Weidenfeld noted: "The peripatetic - perhaps even cosmopolitan - nature of the Professor's life after 1992 means that we should not be strictly bound by the Dorset findings. Rather we can safely assume that his usage would be more likely to conform to that of the UK male population as a whole. Even so, having run the appropriately complex index-adjusted algorithm for males of his age and educational standing, we suggest that there is a ≤0.78% chance that he would have used the word - shall we say - "euphemistically" than "geographically" in any correspondence be it for business or pleasure. Unfortunately there are no comparable surveys of female acronym-legibility and so we are unable to say much about the chances of Ms Sizemore understanding the term in either sense, but we can conjecture that a woman of her age and particularly one known to have "travelled with an older male" would very likely have more understanding of geography than the arcane phraseology of wartime sex.... Whether she would have had more understanding of sex itself than geography is certainly open to question - but that was not alas, within our research remit."*

* "She unquestionably would", Phil Color-Ring-Pencils, Head of Geography and PE, Powerstock Comprehensive School, Dorset - Ms Sizemore's 2nd form teacher.

Yet more powerful minds have brought time and expertise to "The Thrupiece Question" of late. ABOVE: Prestigious Cambridge University's EU-funded Department of Linguistic Statistics; BELOW: The graph that gives hope to many, but disappoints some.

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