Alan Dee: Sorry, I’m letting the nation down

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THE thing that always worries me when a shock survey is splashed all over the news is this: Where is the poor sap who is picking up the slack for me?

Whoever and wherever he or she may be, I wouldn’t swap places with them for all the tea in China, because their life must be a living hell.

I’m a simple soul when it comes to figures, and whenever a survey comes up with an average figure for any particular area of activity, my immediate reaction is to check the average against my own various habits, realise that I’m way off, and then fret about whoever is having to double up to make the books balance.

So if a survey says that Brits tuck into takeaway food twice a week on average, and I know that I only resort to the menus by the phone three or four times a year, to me that means that someone is living on takeaways most of the time.

And that’s just one example – when they start going on about the average personal debt, and I know that I’ve pretty much got a clean bill of health in this area, it means someone somewhere is drowning under a tidal wave of final demands and threatening phone calls.

Even if I find myself hitting the mark, I fret – the national average tea consumption is now down to four cups a day, which is about right for me and probably for Mrs Dee as well.

But in our little family of four, the younger generation never touches the stuff, so somebody is doubling up to compensate for them.

More worryingly, the UK average for coffee consumption is now about two cups a day. I might have two a week, so someone is having to cope with a serious caffeine overdose while also trying to rack up the many hours of TV viewing that I’m failing to contribute to the national balance.

So what prompts these musings about how all our habits add up to some fairly unsettling figures?

It’s the latest figures on mobile phone use, and in particular texting.

The average adult sends 200 texts a month, according to the techies at Ofcom, and that has more than doubled in four years.

Now I’m no Luddite, and I’ll use whatever works for me when it comes to new technology, but I doubt that I have sent 200 texts in my life.

And compared to Mrs Dee, who suffers from texter’s Tourette’s, descending into a foul-mouthed fury of frustration every time she tries to pick out a message on her tiny keypad before giving up in disgust even if she’s only been trying to send ‘OK’ back to a pal changing the time the girls are getting together down the pub, I’m an addict.

It’s probably an age thing, but talking is quicker, talking is more sociable and if it’s not important enough to want to talk to someone about it, why communicate in the first place?

But if both of us are badly letting the side down someone, somewhere could be having to send 600 texts a month just to make those figures work.

Their thumbs must be aching, poor things, and if they’re also having to scoff our share of takeaways and coffee while watching our share of TV, it’s not going to end well.

And somehow I will blame myself for not doing my bit....