It was the last day of term before Xmas and we were confined to our form room with Masher doing some last minute chores with school reports. There was a certain restlessness in the classroom - the excitement of the end of term but boredom at being shut in with nothing much to occupy our minds. Masher, contemplating the scene, was probably reminded of the monkey house at the zoo. So he wrote this puzzle on the board and challenged us to solve it. Can you solve it?

"A rope hung symmetrically on a pulley. At one end was a weight; at the other a monkey. The two balanced. The weight of the rope was 4 ounces for every foot of its length. The weight of the monkey was as many pounds as the monkey's mother was years old. The age of the monkey and the monkey's mother together was 4 years.

The monkey's mother was twice as old as the monkey was when the monkey's mother was half as old as the monkey will be when the monkey is three times as old as the monkey's mother was when the monkey's mother was three times as old as the monkey.

The weight of the weight and the weight of the rope was half as much again as the difference between the weight of the weight, and the weight of the weight and the weight of the monkey.

What was the length of the rope?"

The mathematics is trivial; the problem is one of comprehension. Correct answers were sent in by

John Why

Nic Houghton

Nigel Richardson

Chris Allan