Games: Statistically insignificant

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The Independent Online
Do you spend eight hours and 42 minutes sleeping every day? Do you watch the television for about two hours and 33 minutes, and spend an hour eating at home, another hour socialising, and between 40 and 50 minutes on your personal care?

If all of these apply to you, then you are absolutely average according to the latest edition of Social Trends, that indispensable manual from the Office of National Statistics. But the true fascination of this document lies not in the raw figures of the individual tables of what percentage of which age group of which gender spends how long doing what. The real insights come only when you compare the figures in these tables with each other, and with other surveys that have been done in the past year.

Last year, for example, one survey found that 3 per cent of the population bath only once a week, while another totally different survey revealed that 3 per cent of married women are in love with someone other than their husbands. Quite obviously, though nobody ever pointed it out, those are the women married to the men who bath only once a week.

To take another example, 14 per cent of women, given one wish, would wish to have the housework magically done for them. And 14 per cent of adult males have cycled in the past four weeks. They probably got on their bikes to avoid having to help their wives with the housework. That picture is sadly confirmed by the statistic of 14 per cent of fatal accidents that involve drunk drivers: it's surely those 14 per cent of women, taking to drink at the prospect of all that housework their husbands won't help them with, then getting in the car and running him down on his bike.

Only last week, there was a Valentine's Day survey commissioned by Durex which found that not only do cohabiting couples make love more often than married ones, but they spend longer over it. The precise annual figures were 135 times at 16 minutes a time for married couples and 175 times at 25 minutes each for cohabitees. That's 36 hours a year married love- making and 72 hours 55 minutes unmarried. That's a difference of 36 hours and 55 minutes. And what is 36 hours and 55 minutes? It is, as a detailed study of Social Trends reveals, exactly the length of working time needed for a married couple with husband only working to earn enough to pay for two road fund licences and a pint of milk. This poor man's drunken, ungrateful spouse - 20 per cent of whose conceptions have ended in abortion, I might add - has hastily drunk a bottle of milk to try to sober up, then got in her car, for which he paid the road tax, and mercilessly run him down just because he's too exhausted to help with the washing up. And even if he was one of the 10 per cent who sometimes do the ironing, you can be pretty sure that she'd be one of the 10 per cent who find that it improves her sex life to imagine that she's with somebody else. Probably the ironing males are none other than the 10 per cent who have a female boss.

With all this evident disharmony around, how is it that 58 per cent, in the Durex survey, reported that their sex lives are good or excellent? Once again, the answer lies in a deeper analysis of the figures. For 58 per cent pay cash for their Christmas shopping, 58 per cent of mothers would rather spend Christmas Day at home than on a beach in Australia, and 58 per cent of 8- to 10-year-olds think people look good with a tan. It all adds up to such a sorry picture of rich fathers taking children on holiday to lie in the sun in Australia over Christmas, leaving wives at home to do the housework, while they have good or excellent sex with Antipodean beauties. Bastards! Running over's too good for them, I say.

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