Monday, 28 March 2011

The Census

Census Day came and went. I had TWO forms to complete, as I presently own two houses, my home and the Cottage. Neither took long; that for the Cottage required little more than a few ticks in boxes.

I thought the questions about myself and my home could reasonably have been much deeper and more extensive. In a modern, complex society a government genuinely interested in demographics and social planning absolutely needs a broad range of information, and this Census - although clearly more useful than a straightforward head count - seemed way too simplistic to me. I'd have happily provided much more information, for example about my actual use of local services, my use of the Internet, and how well served I felt by public transport in my area. I think the government missed an important opportunity here.

Perhaps it was felt that the public would revolt if too many questions were asked. Well, there are always those ready to get up on their favourite high horse and wave a sabre against burocracy and needless intrusion. Have they no vision? Or is it a matter of fashionable cynicism? Trendy and clever to complain about a task that, after all, is imposed only once in a decade.

I don't believe I'm naive and idealistic in supporting the notion of Good Citizenship. I am very proud to have the right to vote in parliamentary and local government elections. And the forthcoming referendum. It's not a right 'they' let you exercise very often, and so I absolutely make the most of this personal morsel of democratic power. I never miss a chance to vote, and I scorn those who - from whatever motive - sneer at the process and stay aloof, or do their bit to wreck it, or treat it as a bad joke. Such people deserve a bad joke government as their just reward. Unfortunately all too often that's what we've ended up with, because people didn't care. Or didn't look at the full consequences of their acts or omissions. Sigh.

Of course, I photographed each completed page of my Census Forms. And now, looking at those shots today, I see that I Did Not Follow The Completion Instructions In Every Particular. Where entering words, I didn't split a word as required. For example, instead of entering 'INSPECTOR OF TAXE' on the first line (this was describing my former job) and then 'S' on the second line, I put the entire word 'TAXES' on the second line. That left a big gap after 'OF', and the machine that will scan the form will doubtless baulk at this, and flag my form up for a human phone call. How careless of this conscientious Good Citizen!

How very awkward if I'm dilating when the call comes.


  1. You need a hands free phone so you can chat and help pass the time when otherwise occupied!

    The 2011 Census is a great missed opportunity to learn the size of the UKs trans population. A simple extra tiock box to ask if the gender one has indicated was the same as that shown on the certificate issued at birth would tell so much. Of course we could argue for hours about the extra detail that could have been gleaned with some more insightful questions but that one extra tick box would have provided such a useful piece of information about which there is currently no reliable data.

  2. Yes, I agree the questions were unimaginative.

    My mobile phone can easily be used hands-free, but that's no help. When dilating you need to be in a certain state of mind, focussed but utterly relaxed, and I find it impossible to give proper attention to a phone call. You may be different, of course!


  3. In Canada, the census is done every five years. Until now, one in five received "the long form," which asked detailed questions about domicile and such. Statistics Canada is regarded as one of the best statistical bodies in the world, and they need information to inform public policy.

    The government that was just censured for contempt of Parliament, however, claimed that the long form was too intrusive, and they decided to make it optional. This will have the effect of making material from Stats Can much less reliable.

    I think we used to have stronger sense of responsible citizenship. I think the government, however, is more cynical than the general population.

    I will certainly be exercising my franchise on (or before) May 2! I have never failed to vote when given the opportunity. I think we should have mandatory voting like Australia does.

  4. I am wondering what they are going to make of an all female married couple!

    I think the questions were set by someone on work experience while the staff were out on a trendy outdoor group bonding exercise.

    They wanted to know how many rooms you had but not the sizes or if you had more than one bathroom or if any of these rooms were within an hours drive of where you worked! Run by dumbos and a missed opportunity to gather some useful data.

    Caroline xxx

  5. The 2010 US Census only had ten simple questions on it. If you want to compare it to yours, you can see it at the following web address:

    Melissa XX


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