In which the general consensus is that a little common census goes a long way

To be printed 31/03/11.

It was much glee that I sat down to fill in my census. I like writing about myself, could you tell? Admittedly I wasn't being paid the princely Herald rate of £15 a week for this one, but still I was relishing the chance for a little self-examination for the benefit of the state.

But here is the thing: I was disappointed that the census wan't MORE invasive. I wanted to be probed, goshdarnit. I wanted it to make me realise things about myself that I never knew I didn't know. Unfortunately, something I already knew I knew was how many bedrooms my flat has. It has three. Next question.

How are the residents of our house related to each other? "Well," I start. "We met in Freshers' Week - you thought I was a loser because I said 'hi' to you in a corridor in a bid to make friends, but then we bonded over a mutual hatred of Ministry of Sound and love of inappropriate footwear and Tottenham Court Road hot dogs. We've lived together ever since, apart from that year you went travelling, which I have largely blocked out of my memory anyway because it was also the year of the Mouse House. We have shared clothes, books, an organic veg box and numerous long nights under blankets watching sitcom boxsets."


"The options," says flatmate, "are husband or wife, same-sex civil partner, partner, son or daughter, step-child, brother or sister, step-brother or step-sister, mother or father, step-mother or step-father, grandchild, grandparent, other relation, or unrelated."

"Oh," I say. "Unrelated."

You see, the truth is that far from being a dazzling excavation of our importance in the intricate meshwork of our society, the census has just made our lives look a bit sad. We are no relation to each other. We have no dependents. We don't own any property, or any vans, or give anybody any care or support.  We've never been married or divorced or in a same-sex civil partnership, and, even for the sake of hilarity, none of us are practising Jedi.

Question 17 is left intentionally blank. This one, obviously, has been thrown in to test us - to filter out the blank among us, if you know what I mean. So I circle it and write "ah, but has it?" in the margin.

How is my health in general? This is a hard one. Specifics I could do. I could fill pages with the intricacies of my dizzy spells, my stomach acid adventures, my neck twinge, my heart flutters, my jippy toe and my grotty tooth. I'd be thrilled to finally tell someone who would listen about how sometimes my kidneys pulsate and my nose goes numb whenever I eat radishes.

But in general? How is my health in general?

I tick 'good'.