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Leading article: Who's counting?

We all have a civic chore to look forward to in 2011 in the form of the next national census. And a marathon chore it promises to be, to judge by details divulged by the Office for National Statistics. It will be the longest and the most searching yet.

But, if we do our bit, oh what a treasure trove it will be for the social historians of the next century. They will discover who was lodging with whom on the night of March 27-28, and who was related to whom and how. They will learn how many bedrooms there were; how they were heated, and how well the occupants spoke English.

So what else might our chroniclers want to know? How about: did they get a letter that day in the post? Did they call out a plumber – if so, for what, and how much did they pay? Did they read a book, and what did they watch on television? It's quite possible that these banalities of today will seem as extinct as the Edwardian lady's maid a century hence.