Yes, OK, I have cheated. I admit it. It was only once, I was about 15, and I justified it to my conscience on the grounds that the wheeze was simply brilliant. I was asked to translate a piece of English prose into Latin, and it happened that the passage was from Plutarch who wrote - as every Education Guardian reader knows - in Greek. Suddenly I had an idea. There was an old and largely deserted school library, full of calfskin volumes of prodigious antiquity.
I was certain that mouldering somewhere would be a translation of Plutarch from Greek into Latin. It would be a beautiful thing, lovingly inscribed and illuminated, and so completely irrelevant that no one would even have opened it for about 300 years.
In a fever of excitement, I started fantasising about that monkish feat of scholarship, and the gorgeous Latin with which the translator would have rendered Plutarch: so concise, so pungent, so euphonious. And it would be mine! I could see the pipe of my teacher, the great Mr Hammond, falling from his lips as he beheld the fluency of my constructions.
So after rugby I stole into the library and, together with my friend Garrood, I started scouring the thousands of gold-chased spines. I could see the librarian watching us with mounting suspicion. And then, blow me down, there it was! Plutarch in Latin, exactly as I had predicted. Snorting with laughter, we transcribed it, and handed it in.
I will never forget my disbelief when we got our marks. The flaming monk had obviously been nodding over his scriptorium. Beta/alpha was the verdict, and Mr Hammond's view of the monk's efforts was that "apart from the obvious howlers, much of this runs very nicely".
Howlers, eh! Well, Mr Monk, I said to myself, than you very much. I don't know what things must have been coming to in the Middle Ages, when your average monk couldn't even translate Plutarch. I found the whole thing so laborious, so depressing and so counter-productive that I never once tried cheating again.
It's not just the terror of being found out. The reason most of us don't cheat in our academic work is that you feel so dissatisfied. You are not just cheating your teachers and the rest of your class and your future employers. You are cheating yourself. You haven't really assembled the work, you don't understand how it fits together, and you lack the pride and interest of real authorship.