Thursday, 7 April 2011

Don't ask me questions

I've been having arguments about the census with Husband. He's not happy because the information is being collected by an American arm of the military-industrial complex. I'm not bothered because there's nothing there I wouldn't put on Twitter.

But I did find some of the questions difficult. And that's apart from the enigmatic Question 17. (It turns out the reason it's blank is actually quite boring.) What troubled me were the questions about health and disability.

I recently had a conversation with a group of colleagues about favourite children's books. Most of them mentioned things that hadn't been published when I was a child (although I'm glad to say Narnia is still in there). Someone mentioned Diary of a Teenage Health Freak and how good it was at telling you about things you couldn't ask anyone about. I wish someone would write Diary of a Middle-aged Health Freak.

I've spent the last five years or so counting my aches and pains and not knowing what's just me, what's 'just your age', and what I should be worrying about. No-one tells you this stuff. If I didn't have sisters, I'd only know facial hair was normal from watching Grumpy Old Women and reading Michele Hanson in the Guardian. (I once lent tweezers to a colleague with the words 'I always keep these for emergencies'. She thought I meant eyebrows. She's 30.)

I also know I creak a lot, and, it turns out, that is just me: I have arthritis. I do a Pilates class once a week and I'm the class dunce. But the teacher is very nice, and never shouts at me or makes me put my hair in a rubber band like the PE teachers at school.

So when I got to the census question, 'How is your health in general?' I wasn't sure what to answer. In comparison with what? The options were: very good, good, fair, bad, very bad. Which sounds more like the Shipping Forecast than anything else. They really should have given us the chance to tick 'Mustn't grumble'.

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