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Allan Grey discusses the census findings in Rutland

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Entomology or etymology, I always get those two words confused. Am I interested in the creepy world of insects or the latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary?

Well this week I started by researching the derivation of the word ‘census’, not studying the strange life cycle of the female mayfly, so an etymologist I must be.

In Roman history, a census, from the Latin ‘censere’, or to assess, was the enrolment of names and property, the assessment of one’s worth, one’s wealth, all for the purposes of taxation. The modern use of census is recognised as the official enumeration of the inhabitants of a country or a county, with ‘details’, censuses having emerged in the US and revolutionary France around 1790. Since that time the ‘details’ bit has expanded exponentially, the state seeking to elicit ever more information about us, stopping just short of our inside leg measurement, which side we dress, and what car we own.

Allan Grey
Allan Grey

The results of the most recent 10 yearly census are just beginning to surface, and they paint a fascinating picture, particularly in Rutland. The census asked questions about our household, our home, our faith, our ethnicity, our sexual orientation, our gender identity and whether we still watched the BBC or ate meat. In doing so it has helped build a detailed snapshot of our society, helping the government and local authorities plan and fund local services, such as education, doctors’ surgeries, roads and even public conveniences... good to know that once the council gets to grips with these data, old guys like me will never be caught short again.

As expected the UK population has increased, nationally by 6.3 per cent, and by nearly 10 per cent in Rutland. Rutland is emerging as one of the most ageing counties, with 25 per cent of the population over 65, versus the national average of 18.5 per cent, and the county with the largest disparity between men and women, particularly in the 20-30 year ‘anything goes’ age range, 60 per cent male and 40 per cent female. So we must expect increasing polyandry as a result, but what else?

Well, two local primary schools will be closed and converted into residential homes. Two more GP practices will be opened but remain fashionably closed, and in order to reduce an epidemic of fractured osteoporosis weakened hips following falls involving the ever increasing number of geriatric ebikers, all 7,539 remaining potholes will be filled, with completion estimated by late October, but in a year as yet undecided. Gender neutral temporary loos will be located at 100 yard intervals down our high streets and driving schools will be offering subsidised sessions, teaching reverse parking techniques to anyone identifying as a woman and in possession of a current bus pass.

Allan Grey column
Allan Grey column

A ready meal company has had preliminary planning permission granted to build a large processing plant off Lands’ End Way specialising in ‘moist, ‘easy-chew’ prepared meals. A stairlift firm will be moving their head office from Hampshire into the Mary Celeste, aka the Catmose building, vacated post-Covid by the council, both developments bringing much needed employment to the 138 remaining residents under pension age. How do I know all this? From a highly confidential planning department report I happened across, left carelessly in the portable loo in the High Street as I passed by on my way to a regular Monday coffee morning with the boys (average age: 73, mental age: 13).

In a collaboration with e-scooters, the highways department is looking to adapt the concept found in many cities around the world, and plan to introduce park and ride m-scooters, a four wheeled version for use in and around town. Fifty part time civil enforcement officers will be recruited to manage the inevitable pavement chaos on the High Street on pension day. The need to scan a QR code to get the m-scooter underway will be replaced with a simple Alexa style voice activated navigation system, recognising a few simple commands such as: “Rutland Times” for the newsagents, “statins” for the chemist, “five quid each way” for the bookies, “previously loved” for one of the many charity shops, or “delicately dressed Cromer crab with halloumi inspired frittata” for my favourite eatery, Otters.

Closely aware of the changing demographic, the 14 Turkish barbers in Oakham will be offering Friday morning white beard trims plus a ‘wash and shine’ all at OAP rates, and will be stocking up with Gaviscon and Rennies for that “something extra for the weekend sir”. To equalise the gender balance of the evening economy, most of the pubs and clubs will be adjusting their pricing structure, a pint of Ten Fifty will now become eponymous, giving its name to its new price - £10.50, but the first five glasses of Sex on the Beach cocktails will be free of charge.

Anyway, I think you’ll agree, whether you’re an entomologist or an etymologist, Rutland’s response to the census is nothing short of far-sighted.

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