Who’s claiming to be me in the census?

I filled in my census form like a good citizen – or, actually, like a citizen trying to avoid a £1,000 fine – and gave a false description of myself.

Not intentionally, you understand – phew, another fine avoided – but because of the way some of the questions were phrased.  The Office of National Statistics delivers its figures to help government in ‘the planning and allocation of resources, policy-making and decision-making’.  Well, they’ll be going down the wrong street if they’re doing any planning, allocating and deciding aimed at me.

Home sweet home?

They might want to know what sort of a house I live in, for instance.  The only description I could find that fitted was ‘terraced’.   That wasn’t quite how the developers described it when they spotted I was clutching a mortgage offer.  Now it’s hardly a stately home but it’s not a Victorian workers’ cottage either.  And, anyway, I’ve seen plenty of those which   demand rather more than the word ‘terraced’ to describe them in their updated splendour.  Just what is the term going to convey to those resource-allocators and decision-makers? 

Is this really me?

Then there’s the car parked outside and duly counted.  It belongs to the household all right, but I personally could no more drive it than walk around the exterior of my terraced abode.  Never had a licence in my life, yet I’ll now be tagged as a motorist by the statisticians.  Maybe I’ll be allocated some ‘resources’ on that basis.

Definitely not

Religion?  Well, the ONS offered me quite a few but as none of them really took my fancy I ticked the ‘No Religion’ box.  So at least I’m not a Satanist.

But it’s a bit more complicated than that.    Like most people, I’d guess, I’m not so much godless as a chap just hedging his bets.  Even ‘agnostic’ is a bit too definite for me. Yet once again I’m in the database as someone I don’t really recognise.

I know the boffins who crunch the numbers were keen to keep the questions as simple as possible.  But if I were using the research for the sordid purposes of advertising, where we like a clear sight of our target audience, I wonder how campaignable some to the stats would be.

Hang on – the post’s just arrived.

Hmm.  An invitation to drive in the European Rally Championship.   An offer to convert my outside toilet into a scullery extension.   A discount on string-backed driving gloves.  A sale of wrought iron boot scrapers.  Five anonymous prayers for my salvation.

My resources have already been allocated.


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