Thursday, December 08, 2005

Christmas facts

Schott's Almanac
Christmas has almost passed me by this year. Sure, I see the decorations in the office, the shops and bars but I’m almost oblivious to the Christmas buzz that invades everything at this time of year. That buzz that fills the air with anticipation for some and loathing for others. There are two reasons for this, one being that I hardly ever walk in the parts of the city where the shopping crowds mill even though I live right in the city centre. So, I’m largely unaware of the shopping frenzy that happens all around me. This reason is being aided and abetted by the other reason, namely that I won’t be in South Africa with friends and family, especially my kids. Like many a jaded cynical adult, I’m not particularly fond of Christmas but knowing how much the kids look forward to it does make it a special occasion. So, since I won’t be there, I’m not out and about looking for presents for them and I don’t have a trip to Cape Town to focus my energies on.

Do I sound a bit down about all this? Too right I am! But there are ways of cheering me up besides buying me a ticket to Cape Town. Presents are always welcome and I have lots of suggestions should someone want to buy me something. For instance, how about Ben Schott’s recently released ‘Schott’s Almanac’? It’s just the sort of book I like – full of arcane and useless facts that can be dipped into at any time and for as long or as short as time as possible. And, it makes perfect toilet-reading. From the Guardian:

Schott's Almanac is ostensibly a record of historic reference, chronicling the past year's important events, but it is punctuated with unpredictably diverting statistics, such as the average number of sexual partners men and women had in the previous year. In between accounts of the general election and the tsunami, there is a list of classical music used in TV adverts, an analysis of the popularity of automobile models according to drivers' names (women called Dorothy, Joyce and Doreen favour the Nissan Micra) and a transcript of the Queen's Christmas broadcast.

You'll have realised that the Almanac is obviously aimed at the British public. But based on the great success of his ‘Schott’s Miscellanies’ series and the expected success of his Almanac, his publishers expect an infinitely renewable Christmas formula that can be extended to any country.

So, like Trivial Pursuit (which the Almanac is), expect an annual ‘Schott’s Almanac’ aimed at the country where you live.

Entertaing stuff, don’t you agree? Here, let me give you a few examples to make my point:

hangman's nooseThe Death Penalty:
While five countries abolished the death penalty in 2004 (Bhutan, Greece, Samoa, Senegal, and Turkey), Amnesty International states that in the same year >3797 were killed in 25 countries, the most for a decade. The worst offending states were:

China >3400
Iran >159
Vietnam >64
USA 59
Saudi Arabia >33
Pakistan >15
Kuwait >9
Bangaldesh >7
Egypt >6

Women are most attracted to:
Surgeons * solicitors/barristers * company directors * journalists * IT professionals * management consultants * architects/designers * bankers/brokers * TV directors * academics

Men are most attracted to:
Journalists * TV directors * human resource workers * designers/architects * property * academics * bankers * advertising * doctors * writers

Some Survey Results of 2005
82% of adults back Anti-Social Behaviour Orders
82% want immigrants screened for HIV, TB, and hepatitis
80% of workers think some of their colleagues underperform
75% think GP surgeries are more important than walk-in centres
75% of Russians fear their own police force
69% of teachers in England & Wales back abortion education
66% agree that voluntary euthanasia should be legal
66% do not want the Queen to abdicate
65% of British Muslims believe clerics should preach in English
63% of Chinese have ‘very bad’ or ‘not very good’ impression of Japan
59% support an independent enquiry into Iraqi war casualties
55% think GB will be at a greater security risk hosting the 2012 Olympics
52% do not think nuclear power should be a future energy source
50% of women prefer to make love in the dark
48% associate the Rotary Club logo with their charity work
46% of adults think Anti-Social Behaviour Orders effective
46% prefer team to individual sports
46% of men prefer brunette women (30% prefer blondes)
44% ‘strongly agreed’ with Bluewater’s policy to ban ‘hoodies’
42% of Americans believe in creationism over evolution
42% of adults find a sea view conducive to relaxation
42% of women think about sex while on the London Underground
38% of British people take pride in Big Ben as a British symbol
33% believe contact with or by the dead is possible
32% of OAPs think means testing social security benefits is ‘demeaning’
30% of Plymouth Hospital staff do not want care in their hospitals
30% of London teenagers are distracted by mobiles when crossing roads
25% think Prince Harry’s Nazi costume was acceptable as any
23% have ‘never trusted Tony Blair’
22% 14-year-old girls have had sex (of whom 65% had unprotected sex)
22% of men think about sex while on the London Underground
21% of 13-19-year-old girls have been hit by their boyfriends
21% of drivers think speeding acceptable if there is little other traffic
18% think the Monarchy should end with the Queen
15% of the Welsh do no housework at all
14% of pensioners regularly feel lonely
14% of badgers found dead by the roadside had tuberculosis
12% of Italians believe that Jews lie about the Holocaust
10% failed to identify Nelson as the British admiral at Trafalgar
10% children (5-16) have a clinically recognisable mental disorder
9% think enough is being done to protect children from sex offenders
8% are interested in the sport of wrestling
6% of women buy jewellery on impulse (1% of men do)
1% of women are happy with their shape
Schott's AlmanacThere are a few more lists (not quite as interesting, in my opinion) to be found on the official website.

Now you know what to get me for Christmas. But if you want to buy me a ‘worthier’ book, I have quite a long list. And, if you want to splash out a bit more, a digital camera would go down very nicely. And….


Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

How did this post past me by? I enjoyed it. I would enjoy that Almanac too. I've hinted to my family about a digital camera...

Gosh you poor soul, missing home and family and children.

10:42 pm  

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