My first experience of reading Adams (Watership Down being one of the considerable number of books I wish I’d read as a child) is this very short (three pages) piece set in a boarding school in 1938. The protagonist, Philip, is being bullied by Stafford, the head prefect of his house; he harbours fantasies of revenge, but has never acted on them – until, that is, he finds a knife. I appreciate the way Adams portrays the knife as the focus of Philip’s desires; but I feel that the ending doesn’t quite work, and the rest of the telling is not quite intense enough to compensate, so ultimately this story falls short for me.

Rating: ***