Terence Blacker: Meet Mr and Mrs Average

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The Independent Online

The world may be awash with a daily torrent of surveys, graphs, league tables and flow-charts, but there are still those who believe we need more numbers to make sense of modern life. For them, the two little words "per cent" represent all that is real and true. To encourage even more mathematical analysis of all we do and think, the UN will next week launch World Statistics Day.

Our own Office for National Statistics is eagerly participating in this great orgy of nerdism. To alert the nation to World Statistics Day, it has just released the results of an important survey into what constitutes the life of an average Briton. Mr Average is, we are told, 38-years-old, 5ft 9ins tall and weighs in at a rather shocking 13.16 stone. Mrs Average is 40, 5ft 3in high and weighs 11 stone. He earns £28,270, which is over £6,000 more than she does. They have 1.96 children between them, and spend 23 and 26 minutes respectively reading a newspaper, magazine or book every day. TV occupies him daily for 2 hours 50 minutes, her for 2 hours 25 minutes. Their shopping basket will contain semi-skimmed milk, a packet of cereal, some bacon and a bar of milk chocolate.

All this is very exciting but surely, in an age when statistics are revered as never before, we need more of these insights. While pursuing its important work, the Office for National Statistics should release even more of what it has discovered about Mr and Mrs Average of Typical Avenue, Ordinaryville and their fascinating lives.

Cooking. Mrs Average spends 43.28 minutes cooking compared to Mr Average's 3.13 minutes (toast). She points out that there might just possibly be a connection between this domestic drudgery and the fact that, according to the ONS, Mr Average consumes double the alcoholic units she does and watches almost half an hour more TV. Not that she's bitter.

Eating meals. Mr and Mrs Average eat 81.62 per cent of all evening meals in front of the television. During this time, 0.49 seconds are devoted to conversation, during which the most used phrases are "Anything on the other side?", "Do we have to watch this rubbish?", "It's your turn to put the 1.96 children to bed", and "That Huw Edwards has put on a bit of weight".

Bedtime. Mrs Average goes to bed 42.33 minutes before Mr Average, who stays up late 86.54 per cent of evenings to do "research" online.

Sex. The Averages experience ("enjoy" would be too strong a word, says Mrs Average) conjugal relations 1.32 times a week. Asked about .32, Mrs Average invited the interviewer to ask Mr Average about that, the selfish pig.

Fidelity. Mr Average is 2.33 (recurring) more likely to have had an affair than Mrs Average. It wasn't an affair really, he says, just a physical thing, a bit of fun that got out of hand when he was at a sales conference, hardly worth mentioning really. Mrs Average is in touch with an ex-boyfriend through her Facebook site and has suggested they meet up for what she calls "a spot of auld lang syne".

Offence. The Averages agree that they are offended more than ever before. She is most offended by bankers, MPs, BBC fat cats, City bonuses, people who fail to answer the question on Newsnight and Jeremy Clarkson. He takes most offence at that prat Piers Morgan on Britain's Got Talent, some frankly disgraceful refereeing decisions on Match of the Day, and the Big Society (obesity's quite enough of a problem without giving them their own society).

Recycling. Mrs Average spends 7.51 more time recycling household waste than Mr Average, who can't stand all this Planet Earth, polar bear stuff, and thinks the Government is spying on him through his waste-bin.

Divorce. The Office for National Statistics has revealed that Mr Average's second marriage will be when he is 45.9 years old while Mrs Average's will be when she is 43.1. He expresses surprise that there will be second marriage. She starts packing her suitcase.