Count Me In

It’s census time. We’ve been doing this in the UK for almost a thousand years. Well, not me personally, although I wouldn’t mind getting that sort of longevity out of life. But I wasn’t around for the original Domesday Book. I wasn’t around for the first of the modern census’ either, back in 1801. This year’s social survey will, however, be the fourth than finds my name etched somewhere into British history.

I filled out my section myself. No one else should be trusted. They might kid the government into believing you’re a tax dodging millionaire. The form is pretty simple, although there are a few boxes which raise your eyebrows. For different reasons.

I was asked what my job title is. Sales Assistant. What does that involve, they want to know. I assist with sales. Ask a silly question, get a silly answer. I wonder how much of a sense of humour they possess. Probably not much. Oh well. That’s their problem.

Box 17 has been left intentionally blank. Kinda weird. That’s exactly what it says. This question is intentionally left blank. Go to 18. So I went to 18, right after I went on the net to find out more about the mysterious Question 17. Did aliens land on Question 17? Is it the UK’s version of Area 51? Is number 17 the Queens unlucky number, and deliberately omitted for her pleasure?

Census’ of decades, and centuries, before used to ask some odd and personal stuff. Had someone tried to resurrect one of these very non PC questions? Were we going to be asked if we were blind, mute or feeble minded? I’d have answered in the affirmative to ‘feeble-minded’ given the option. Any future indiscretion or falling foul of the law on my part, and I’d have a get out clause. I’m feeble-minded, and I did tell you so.

Class was once important too. Upper, middle or working? I guess contemporary UK would require new adjectives. Toff, Nimby, Chav or Pikey? It was also obligatory to tell the authorities where you came from. An E for England. S for Scotland, W for Wales and pikey I for Ireland. Or a F for Foreign Parts. I was tempted to scrawl F in chili sauce on my section, as a reflection of my living arrangements of the last 6 years.

It turns out that Question 17 is for the Welsh only, and all census’ sent to English addresses are left blank. Intentionally. One imagines that had it been unintentional then they would have said that this box has been accidentally left blank. But who knows for sure. But anyway, I’ve completed my part. And for the second consecutive consensus I have registered my religious belief. It’s voluntary, you know. But I’m not ashamed to declare my faith. A Jedi. Don’t laugh, there were 400,000 of us at the last census. If you don’t like it, you can jolly well move along. This isn’t the blog you were looking for. Move along, move along…



16 thoughts on “Count Me In

  1. I have always disliked government forms. But I dislike the census form more than most. The government simply does not need to know some things about me.

    In the 1970s, the military was attempting to construct base files to determine how its anti-discrimation pokicies were working. I was asked “what do you consider yourself” as race and religion. I considered myself an “American” by race, but the closest choice was “American Aleut.” For religion, I wrote in “Reformed Druid.” When I left the service, I suspect an entire statistical designation disappeared. Eskimoes who worship bushes.


  2. tancho says:

    I am lucky that black helicopters never hovered over my house in the states when I filled out the census forms. I answered the questions somewhat like you did, hey, they wanted to know, and it would be one thing if it was for some sane purpose but I like Steve think they have ballooned out of proportion to the worth and value their bestow upon their taxpayers. They originally were only suppose to ask about a half dozen questions, now I understand the form in the states is about 12 pages long…..
    11 1/2 pages too long for my liking.
    Jedi……I like that.


    • I didn’t look to see how many pages the full census was. Did my four pages and went off and did something more interesting.

      I think a happy solution would be for the census to contain a page of the basic questions that are compulsory, and then make the rest voluntary.

      The force runs strongly in my family. But we never did learn that sticking fingers in electrical sockets was bad for you…


  3. Kim G says:

    You should have answered #17 with something wacky, followed by, “answered intentionally.”

    At least that might have brightened some bureaucrat’s day. Or a computer’s.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where, when asked to state our race, we typically check “other” and fill in European-American. Why should African-Americans have all the fun?


    • But we all came from Africa originally Kim. If you can’t beat them, join them. Perhaps for the next census you could declare yourself an African Arabian European Scandinavian American. Just for fun…. 🙂


  4. Kim G says:

    P.S. Question #18 should have been answered, “other” followed by “no entiendo.”


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we share your other commenters’ love of government forms.


  5. I am pretty much in Steve’s corner on the census issue – If you want a body count OK – beyond that my business is not yours to massage and analyze in manners I know not – no thanks or better yet read my Blog you will find out even more than you asked. My life is an open Blog.


    • I think most Americans (that I know of anyway) are in Steve’s corner. We have many similarities, us Limeys and you Yanks, but there are cultural differences and our take on government is probably one of the most obvious. Brits will tolerate a lot more government nosiness than you.

      Related, if slightly off topic – I find it kind of ironic, assuming my perceptions are right, that the US has so much more legislation in place to get rid of elected officials, which seem to prove so ineffective. The UK has ancient laws in place that mean Members of Parliament actually cannot officially resign. And yet they manage to find a way to get out / get rid of them. Promotion to obscurity is the favoured tactic I believe.


  6. Obet says:

    The force is strong with you Gary…:D

    The Brit census looks a lot funnier than the Mexican one, pulling the goverment’s leg is easier in this way .


  7. Several of the questions on last year’s Mexican census asked about household appliances (was there a refrigerator, washing machine, blender… on the premises). The only one that stumped me was asking what the roof was made of. It’s not thatch, and not wood, so I took a wild guess and said concrete.

    No questions about “race” although there were some on language, and one on religion (Iglesia de San Chicarito)


    • I do now vaguely remember the washing machine type questions, now that you mention them.

      Some people might call them ultra nosey questions. Others might call them silly. But this is more, I think, about measuring basic living standards to gain an insight into how, where and when Mexico is developing.


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