By happy circumstance, I found something in the papers that isn’t about Christmas, what to buy that special person in your life, or how to cook the perfect yuletide dinner. If you haven’t figured out that the sprouts do not go on at the same time as the roast, then you’re a lost cause. No number of glossy pullouts on the Sunday papers will save you. Arrange to eat out.

By another happy circumstance, it’s a survey and you know how I love them. Here’s the deal. 2000 Britons in their 30s were subjected to a lifestyle survey. The results indicate that the typical person in this age group:

  • lives with a partner or spouse
  • has been in the relationship for 7 years
  • has £343 a month disposable income
  • has Queen as their favourite band (!)
  • goes to pubs rather than clubs
  • has £4300 in savings
  • drives a hatchback
  • reads seven books a year
  • has Dirty Dancing as their favourite film
  • has two disagreements with the partner per month

I find a lot of this to be frankly unbelievable. Queen? Hang on, Freddie Mercury died in 1991 when a current 35 year old would have been 11 years old. Dirty Dancing? That hit the screens in 1987, hence this lot are naming a film that came out when they were seven years old. The people who really like this film are largely women who, in 1987, were adolescents with soft hearts and open tearducts. I don’t know anybody much under 45 who thinks this is a great piece of cinema.

The disposable income seems suspiciously low too. £343? Not to judge by the hijinks in our small town of a Saturday night. I’ve seen people blow more than that on a few bottles of prosecco. And the savings? Not sure there either. Driving a hatchback is no surprise, because most of the world does. But where did these dodgy looking figures originate?

I’m grateful to the i for enlightenment. The survey was carried out by Nationwide Savings, and I would assume that it surveyed its own customers, a surefire way to introduce sample bias. If somebody’s asking you how much you’ve got to splash on a night out, and they want to get their hands on the rest, you’re going to feel guilty and fib, aren’t you?

There’s another bit of a problem here. Nationwide reach the conclusion that a typical 30+ person shows these characteristics. Ahem. We know nothing of the demographics of Nationwide customers. Are they Nationwide customers because they find the company reassuringly stolid, a cautious subset of the general population? Are they natural hellraisers thumbing their noses at convention? Are they an accurate reflection of the population, or in other words, typical? Search me, because I don’t know.

I bet Nationwide don’t know either. But that never stops people extrapolating as I keep telling you.

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