Common census


Friday was a beautiful spring day, like Thursday and Wednesday and preceding days. The sun shone, a light breeze blew, the birds sang, the bumblebees buzzed and the daffodils nodded affirmatively.

I finished work early and decided that winter was over. I took the car to the garage to get the winter tyres swapped for summer tyres. When I got home I mowed the lawn as the sun sank low in the sky.

“Took winter tyres off the car today. It will now be freezing, probably with hailstorms for the next few weeks. Sorry.” I tweeted. Ironically.

Saturday morning dawned at least ten degrees colder. It rained chilly rain all day. The birds, bees and insects cowered under dripping foliage, shivering.

In mediaeval times this sort of coincidence of foul weather and the puny hopes of man would have been interpreted as evidence of an all-powerful and rather sullen God. The divine power crushes mankind’s hopes to remind us of our sinful state.

I interpreted it as just a coincidence.  In spring it is sometimes warm and dry and sometimes cold and wet.  The ups and downs of life are evidence of disinterested project management at best, rather than divine comedy

Which brings me to census day.

Once every ten years all households in Britain have to complete a census form. There are 43 questions to be answered by each adult in the house. It takes a bit of time, you need to allow up to an hour to read and complete the form for a large family. Householders are legally obliged to complete the form on Sunday 27 March.

Every year on the last Sunday in March we put our clocks forward. This means that the day is one hour shorter than other Sundays. This year the shortened day is census day.

On the one day in the year that we need an extra hour to complete a tedious (but useful and valuable) piece of bureaucracy, we lose an hour…

This might be a coincidence. It might be proof of the existence of God with a sense of humour. But I suspect that it is simply the result of poor project management.

Surely it would be more logical and elegant to have the census in October, on the day we gain an hour?


4 Responses to “Common census”

  1. I like your logic, however come october I’d trade it for the long lie-in every time.

  2. I didn’t find the Census that time consuming, although there is only 2 of us in the house!

  3. 3 Mike S

    Not to mention the poor planning of having the Australian Grand Prix the same weekend, meaning us F1 fans have to get up at 7am BST

  4. 4 Camilla

    I filled in the census form online ahead of time. I clicked the Submit button expecting to be told to go go away until the 27th, then come back and click it properly. But the site just accepted my submission. As it happens we had no guests on the 27th so it was all accurate.

    I don’t know how many people used the online version – everyone I have asked so far did it on paper. I thought the online version was quite quick and logical to use.

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