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

The Week - - Poll Watch -

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

...but he cer­tainly isn’t

He’s prob­a­bly pretty happy...

“Then, af­ter hu­mans har­vest our noses, they liquify them and drink the juice. They be­lieve it gives them spe­cial pow­ers, which they call ‘an­tiox­i­dants’.”

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