Belfast Telegraph

I’ve clearly taken leave of my very own census

By Frances Burscough

Tomorrow is C Day. Census questionnaires must be filled in on or soon after the 27th or Big Brother will come and get you. And he won’t be pleased.

I’ve already done mine, but that’s only because I actually like filling in forms. Seriously. I even have a special pen (Uniball Gel Impact: Jet black) that I bought specifically and use exclusively for such purposes. I carry it around in my handbag when I go into town, just in case I get stopped by a “chugger” or a representative from Littlewoods clutching a clip-board, in which case I will usually agree to their demands on condition that I can check all the boxes myself. I know it may sound bizarre and geeky, because it is; but my form-filling fetish gives a sense of order and arrangement to my otherwise chaotic and disorderly life.

It’s unlikely that many of you out there will share my view and will see this whole census malarkey as an unwelcome chore. But, as the form says, it’s your duty by law to complete it, so if you haven’t even lifted it out of its envelope yet you had better get cracking.

Meanwhile, there is another census that is not compulsory but which I, for one, (probably the only one) believe is just as vital to the common good of Oor wee country. It’s called the (Unofficial) Weekend Magazine Census and has been created (by me) specifically to gauge the kind of people who read this magazine and, more specifically, my column on a regular basis. Furthermore, I have compiled a list of questions on topics which I feel are much more pertinent, relevant and interesting than “How many rooms did you or your Caucasian same-sex civil partner use when you conversed with each other in Ulster Scots in the past week?”.

(Tips for answering are in brackets, where necessary)

1 Sex? (don’t answer “yes please”)

2 What age will you be on March 27, 2011?

3 What age do you a) Look b) Feel c) Wish you were d) Tell people you are?

4 If you could spend the night with a celebrity, who would you choose and why? (Remember, this is a family newspaper)

5 Do you support a football team? If the answer is no, (and I don’t blame you, they’re all a lot of overpaid idiots) please go to question 7.

6 If so a) Which? b) Why? c) Is it not just because they usually win? Or d) because they have the flashiest merchandise and coolest jerseys?

7 Do you have any children? If not (make the most of your freedom! Go Out! Get wasted!) go to question 9.

8 Have you ever felt like wringing their bloody necks? If so, why? Did you manage to restrain yourself? (if not, please go to the police station)

9 Do you own a George Foreman Grill? Do you find that the drip tray is a terrible pain to clean out? If not, please indicate your cleaning tips in the space provided, as mine drips directly onto the kitchen floor and I keep slipping on it.

10 Have you ever worn women’s underwear (if you are a man and a bit kinky that way)? Or men’s underwear (if you’re a woman, just because there were no clean knickers left in the drawer)?

11 Have you ever been into Tesco and noticed a fit-looking bloke and surreptitiously peered into his trolley in the hope of seeing a Tesco’s Finest Meal For One but immediately lost interest when you see a bumper pack of Pampers? Or is it just me who does that?

12 Cheryl Cole: Utterly charming or utterly charmless? Give reasons for your answer.

13 Have you ever; a) read a Katie Price novel? b) Bought a Justin Bieber CD or c) genuinely enjoyed a film starring Paris Hilton? (Please be honest here — and remember all answers are anonymous and held in the strictest confidence.)

14 Have you ever sent a steamy text or email to someone when you have been drinking and then woken up the next day to realise it actually went to your dad or your boss by mistake? (If not, please give examples of your own. Everyone has done it at least once.)

15 Do you have any unusual geeky interests (for example, the love of form-filling) that you would like to confess to? If so, please provide details and, if relevant, diagrams. (Remember this is a family newspaper.)

My email address is at the bottom of the page. Send in your answers to that address and I will include the most interesting/entertaining responses in a future column (names will be withheld unless requested otherwise).

Now help tomorrow take shape and be part of the Weekend Magazine Census!

francesaburscough@hotmail.co.uk

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