The way we were in 2017
Polls this year didn’t just tell us about our attitudes to Brexit, they revealed a lot about the kind of people we are
Are we a God-fearing nation?
Not any more. 21% of those aged between 11 and 18 may describe themselves as active followers of Jesus, and 13% of them attend church ( Comres/sunday Telegraph). But overall, only 47% of us say we are religious – a record low: in 1983, when the British Social Attitudes survey first asked the question, 69% did ( Yougov/ Sunday Times). The over-75s are an exception: 73% of them say they’re religious. By contrast, a mere 29% of 18- to 24-year-olds claim to be ( Yougov/independent). And even among people who profess to be Christians, 23% said they do not believe in Christ’s resurrection, 29% said they never pray and 55% said they never read the Bible ( COMRES/BBC).
Do we do much reading of any sort?
Not a lot. It’s true that 25 million books have gone missing from Britain’s public libraries in the past 20 years ( The Guardian), but it’s not clear how many actually got read. When 2,000 people were asked by the Royal Society of Literature to name an author, 20% said they couldn’t think of one and 25% said they hadn’t read a book in the past six months. In fact, one in ten of us – one in five 18- to 24-yearolds – don’t own a single book ( Aviva/ Sunday Times). By contrast, the average household contains 8.2 devices linked to the internet – 10.9 if the household has children. By the time they leave primary school, more than 40% of children have their own mobile phone ( The Times).
Do we enjoy our online obsession?
It doesn’t appear so. 63% of secondary school pupils say they wouldn’t mind if social media didn’t exist; 56% describe themselves as being on the edge of addiction to it; 71% say they’ve been on temporary “digital detoxes” to try to get over it ( Digital Awareness Uk/guardian). It doesn’t stand you in good stead with your boss either: 19% of employers say
Statistics of the year
Of the 8,096 people registered homeless in London in 2015-16, only 3,271 were British. Nearly 3,000 were from central or eastern Europe, and 1,546 were Romanian. Daily Mail
There are 59 theatres at London’s private schools; there are 42 in the West End. The Sunday Times
The proportion of women aged 18 who started university this autumn in the UK (37.1%) was more than a third greater than that of men (27.3%). The Guardian
About 45% of children in Britain today have no siblings. The Times
Last year, 15.8% of British adults smoked, down from 17.2% in 2015 – the second lowest rate in Europe, behind Sweden. The Guardian
Are we more sexually active?
Probably not; at any rate, many of us don’t feel the need to be. 75% of single women and 65% of single men say they haven’t tried to find a partner in the past year ( Mintel). But unlike Americans, we don’t set many restraints on social intercourse between the sexes. 60% of American women and 48% of American men think it inappropriate for a married person to have a drink with a member of the opposite sex who isn’t their spouse ( Morning Consult/new York Times). By contrast, just 12% of British women and 10% of British men feel that way ( Yougov/ Times). The Brits are also more relaxed about pre-marital sex, even those who identify as Catholics. 76% of the latter now say there’s nothing wrong with it; only 38% did in 1985 ( British Social Attitudes Survey). However, as ever it’s the French – more specifically Parisians – who are most carefree about sexual encounters. 44% of Parisians say they’ve had sex with someone without knowing their name and 22% have taken part in an orgy ( Ifop).
Are we by and large a happy crew?
We certainly don’t think life is fair. Just 25% of us feel it is, compared with 38% of Americans ( Yougov). On the other hand, you may well be happy if you come from Newcastle, the country’s happiest town. Fully 72% of Geordies admit to smiling regularly and feeling “a warm glow”. At the other end of the scale is Birmingham – only 40% of Brummies say they feel happy ( Galabingo.com). But most of us do seem to be pretty happy at work: 68% of women and 58% of men either love or at least like their jobs ( Yougov). Not, however, if they happen to be judges, who plead guilty to being thoroughly miserable: 74% of them think they’re underpaid, 42% would quit their job if they felt they had a viable alternative, and only 2% feel valued by the Government ( JAS).
A woman who ordered a Peppa Pig birthday cake for her daughter was surprised when the bakery handed her one featuring a large picture of a USB stick. “They asked me to bring in the image I wanted on a memory stick, and they would scan it onto the cake,” explained Karen Moroney, from Limerick in Ireland. “So I did. The Peppa Pig picture was the only file on it. But someone got their wires crossed and put a picture of the USB on the cake instead.”
of 75% of my liver. After the operation, I was informed by one of his colleagues that, on the balance of probability, I had about five years to live.
I had regular post-operative checks with Bramhall for four years. My treatment was professional, patient-focused and friendly. He always had a welcoming smile. I am horrified to read phrases like “assault by beating” applied to a thoroughly decent professional.
Thanks to Bramhall I am still alive and active long after my projected demise. It does not bug me one bit whether or not I have his initials on my liver. Emeritus Professor Jim S. Sandhu, University of Northumbria