Harald Tobermann, a Pilrig resident with strong opinions on the matter, has sent us the following extract.
It comes from The Times of 26 December 1799, and neatly foreshadows heated exchanges across many kitchen tables in these parts over the last few weeks concerning the beginning and ending of decades.
We have uniformly rejected all letters, and declined all discussion upon the question of when the present century ends as it is one of the most absurd that can engage the public attention, and we are astonished to find it has been the subject of so much dispute, since it appears to be perfectly plain.
The present century will not terminate till January 1, 1801, unless it can be made out that 99 are 100. Eighteen centuries are 1800 years, then how can 18 centuries be completed till the year 1800 has expired?
What is the meaning of a century, but a clear distinct series of 100 years? How can 100 be completed by 99? ...
We shall not pursue this question further, nor should we now have said so much upon it, had not several applications been made for our opinion.
It is a silly, childish discussion, and only exposes the want of brains of those who maintain a contrary opinion to that we have stated ...