Perspective: Spaced out over the census

IT has been picked up and put down again half a dozen times. Working up the enthusiasm to fill in the national census is mighty difficult.

I've tried leafing through it but the questions quickly become very boring. And then I come to a shuddering halt when I get to question 17 and discover a note to say it has deliberately been left blank. Why could they not have made the intended question 18 number 17 and carried on?

Even a press release aimed at getting people interested in the results of the census fails to generate any great desire to join in the game.

This looks back at the last census, in 2001, and reveals that in Stevenage there were 600 software professionals, 247 electricians and electrical fitters, 114 bricklayers and masons, 258 plumbers and heating and ventilation engineers, 392 carpenters and joiners, 78 plasterers and 315 painters and decorators.

Perhaps you should sit down while you take in more fascinating facts about Stevenage a decade ago. There were 302 chefs and cooks, 149 waiters and waitresses and 203 bar staff all in full time work. There were 28 butchers and meat cutters, and 45 bakers and flour confectioners.


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There are more figures about the number of travel agents, hairdressers, taxi drivers, midwives, mechanics, window cleaners – 54 of them – and farmers among many other trades.

And then there is the big question: What will the 2011 census reveal about the area and has much changed? I can hardly wait to find out. Wake me up when the results are out.

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But I am glad to learn that some people are not treating the census as seriously as officialdom expects them to do.

Ten years ago, almost 400,000 people said their religion was Jedi which of course has everything to do with Star Wars and nothing to do with a mystery man in the sky.

This time round, there could be even more people opting for Jediism. What they may not appreciate is that they could be making themselves the targets for a postbag full of junk mail

Such folk are reckoned to be frequent users of social networking sites and fit the general profile of sci-fi fans – in short, young male adults – and so are excellent fodder for the marketers ever looking to sell their products.

Looking back half a century ago, I know what I was doing around April 12, 1961 – I drew a rocket on the inside front cover of a school exercise book and inscribed the top of it with the name Yuri Gagarin.

On that date he became the first person to orbit the Earth and to millions of schoolboys around the world he became an instant hero.

A lot has happened since then with some amazing space explorations but Yuri will always be in my thoughts as the man who led the way.

Perhaps now I should be thinking about booking a seat on the Virgin Galactic spaceship which could be taking tourists into space within a couple of years. They only cost �125,000 a time.

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