Belfast Telegraph

As Bard might have said, poll is much ado about nothing at all

By Robert McNeill

Never been there. Never done that. Never got the T-shirt. I was delighted to read that many other people hadn't either.

Been where? Done what? Well, anywhere and anything really. I don't like going anywhere. And I don't like doing anything much.

I remember being plagued by a PR company offering me a free "activity holiday", in which I was expected to leap hither and yon, get wet, and be thrilled generally. They seemed to think they were doing me a favour.

I couldn't imagine anything worse. Wee tip for life, readers: never indulge in anything that requires wearing a helmet.

Not that going to McDonald's requires wearing a helmet, unless you're having the mayonnaise. But, according to a survey by internet search engine Ask Jeeves, going to McD's is one of several common experiences that many citizens of England and the Other Bits (the UK) haven't tried.

The figure for McDonald's was 19%, which the papers thought high, where to me it seemed surprisingly low.

It's 12 years since I was in McDonald's, though I was grateful to find one in scary Prague - a place I didn't want to visit and was glad to leave.

Other non-events for many people were: flying in a plane (23%); ordering takeaway coffee (30%); going to the football (36%); and visiting France (23%). Again, these percentages seem surprisingly low. Why have so many people visited France?

Nothing against the place. Rather liked it indeed, during one compulsory visit for a wedding. But you wouldn't go, surely, unless you had to.

The same probably applies to reading Shakespeare. It was the activity that most citizens hadn't done, at a fairly whopping 37%.

Hardly surprising really. It would be easier if Shakespeare had written in proper English. "Marry, get thee hence, sirrah!" What the flip?

Only 6% of punters hadn't used a mobile phone, so you can tell this poll didn't include the elderly, and only 5% hadn't used a public toilet, so you can tell this poll included the elderly.

Some 18% had never owned a car, and 68% had never indulged in the downward trajectory of fools: skiing.

An Ask Jeeves spokesdude told a packed public square: "From air travel to emails and even mobile phones, it seems some people are managing to get on perfectly well in their lives without modern day distractions."

We doff our millinery to these folk.

Nowadays, there's so much to do, and so many gadgets to do it with.

Everyone's expected to "multi-task", even as attention deficit disorder spreads like flu.

Adept modern people in little hooded jerkins might be able to use a public toilet, send an email, visit France and eat a Big Mac all at the same time. But the rest of us demur.

When pressed, or threatened with a mallet, most people say they yearn for simpler times. Bad idea. Simpler times were smellier and badly lit.

There's nothing wrong with the modern world, apart from everything about it. The key is just to do your own thing. Take what you need. Do what you can. Use your brains. For, as Shakespeare said, the Quite Good Lord didn't invent intelligence "to fust in us unused".

And if you haven't done many commonplace things, remember there's a fust time for everything.


From Belfast Telegraph