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A good day to make up bad statistics

It was bound to happen, wasn't it? Admittedly this is a fairly harmless piece of fluff from Jowell's DCMS. Tessa notes that 94% of the English adult population in England 'have engaged in at least one form of cultural or sporting opportunity during the past twelve months' and she reckons (or more realistically, one of her peons reckons) that 'This comprehensive survey shows the vital role culture and sport play in the life of our country'.

Before I start making hay over the definitions of sport and culture, how does the fact that people choose to do something demonstrate a 'vital role...in the life of our country'? The same 'argument' could be made for scratching one's head, staring out of the window or crossing the road.

However, onwards:

Sport is taken to include angling, hill walking, indoor bowls, darts (I just *knew* it would be), and my favourite, 'Snooker, pool, billiards (except bar billiards)'. Righty-ho, no bar billiards. That shows they are serious in their definition of 'sport', does it not?

And as for arts participation, the DCMS's definition goes just a little beyond what most of us would consider it to be. And the nation's leading form of arts participation is, wait for it, having 'Bought any original/handmade crafts such as pottery or jewellery for yourself' at 16%. Also popular is mucking about with Photoshop 'creating original artworks using a computer' (11.6%). Getting a touch more high brow, supposedly 0.5% of the nation did ballet last year, and the same percentage opera. Could that be Rattus norvegicus I find myself downwind of? The single most alarming statistic must be the 4.3% of the population that claims to write poetry.

I suggest that Jowell should be subjected to a lengthy term of incarceration with the nation's amateur poets forming a relay to declaim at her as payback for the egregiously dishonest 94% 'cultural or sporting opportunity' engagement figure.

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Anonymous verity said... 3:52 pm

Croydonian - I too caught that "sporting opportunity". Is there nothing about the English language that these people have mastered? If you buy a ticket to a football match, is that a "sporting opportunity"? If you deliberate book a flight and a chalet and pack your winter clothes and skis, is that a "sporting opportunity"? Does she have such a tin ear that she doesn't realise everyone will spot her deliberate, political, use of the word "opportunity" and her attempt to marry it to socialism?

Since when was pottery an art? I thought that was why we had the phrase "arts and crafts".

I'm in agreement with you regarding the 4.33 per cent who claim to write poetry.

BTW, speaking of the English language, no offence, but it's not "making hay" - it's hey. It means jollity with a hey nonny no. It's a different root.  

Anonymous this guy said... 4:35 pm

I've bin visiting the Croydonian and thus playing a vital opportunity in erm.....  

Anonymous verity said... 4:38 pm

I just seized an opportunity to walk to the corner shop, where I had the opportunity to buy some tortillas they were selling. I also took the opportunity of buying a mango.  

Blogger Lilith said... 4:40 pm

verity, isn't "making hay" actually short for "making hay while the sun shines"?

Love the poetry reading idea. Just love it. It could be used in the probation service, as part of community service, to drive people to a life of honourable and civilised participation in their communities?  

Blogger Lilith said... 4:40 pm

Or perhaps its a pun "making hay/hey whilst the sun shines"  

Anonymous verity said... 5:02 pm

No. It's 'make hey while the sun shines'. Hegh is OE for high. Taking the opportunity while conditions are good.

Hay is OE for haw or hedge.

Actual hay, as in straw, may come from hack - to cut irregularly. Don't know.  

Anonymous verity said... 5:06 pm

Yes, I too like the poetry readings idea. In fact, it could be a form of community service to fellow prisoners, instead of television, say.

One person would 'ave to do 'is 'ead in writin' a pome, like, and the audience of delinquents would have to deconstruct and discuss it.

Yes, I can see that that would drive hard cases to getting up and going to work.  

Blogger Croydonian said... 5:59 pm

Interesting stuff on hay / hey. Brewer has it as 'hay'.

The use of 'opportunity' did set my teeth grinding, it must be said.

Free verse readings as a form of punishment could well be just what the criminal justice system needs.  

Anonymous verity said... 6:09 pm

Partridge has it as hey.  

Blogger Ed said... 6:17 pm

I must be one of the sad 6%  

Anonymous verity said... 7:28 pm

Well, Ed, that depends on how define Blair bashing. If you are a Blair basher and you have seized the opportunity to bash Blair with vigour and malice, then you could probably slip under the wire as one of the 94% who have availed yourself of sporting opportunities. (Bashing Tessa Jowell would also come in under the definition of "sporting opportunity".)  

Anonymous flashgordonnz said... 2:32 am

I had an opportunity to pick up my own pants this morning. But I failed to act in time, so the opportunity was lost.

I wonder what % engages weekly or more often. SLightly less than 94% me thinks, even with the rather interesting definition.  

Anonymous Brian Sewell said... 7:15 am

speaking of art, Verity, regarding Spencer Tunick's latest artwork - 18,000 naked people in Mexico City's main square - I'm certain I spotted you in the crowd  

Blogger Ed said... 9:36 am

I don't bash Blair - in fact I miss him already because the BBC told me last night that the last ten years have been the best years ever!  

Anonymous verity said... 3:07 pm

Brian Sewell - I see that you made the same comment in the same words over on Iain's, except there you had the sense to make it anonymously.

Given my derisive comments, freely and frequently offered, about the pretensions of "modern art" and its ego-fantasist practitioners, I find your comment here as pointless as I did on Iain Dale's Diary. It wasn't worth saying once, being pointless.

Do you write poetry by any chance?  

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