During February 2003 on diamond geezer I kept myself busy by counting things. Ten different counts, to be precise, in a none-too thrilling daily feature called The Count. My 28-day tally chart may have been deathly dull to the rest of you, butI'vecontinuedtocountthosecategoriesagain, everysingleFebruarysince, purely to keep tabs on how my life is changing. Over the last year it's changed a heck of a lot, indeed this has been the most atypical February ever courtesy of a pesky coronavirus, so it's nice to be able to get a quantitative handle on my life under lockdown. Below are my ten counts for February 2021, each compared to the corresponding count for February 2020 (and the average for Februaries over the previous five years).
Count 1 (Blog visitors): It's been a below average month for people turning up to read what I've written, and not quite as good as last February. This might be because I haven't been venturing far from home so the content's been limited, it might be because I haven't had any big hitter posts to attract an additional audience, or it might be that an increasing number of readers are slipping past my stats package without registering a visit. Whatever, 2350 visitors a day is not to be sniffed at, indeed it makes me twice as popular as the Dangleway at present. I'm glad that my ongoing quest for London-centric bloggage continues to engage. Total number of visits to this webpage in February 2020: 66682 Total number of visits to this webpage in February 2021: 65701 (↓2%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 64200
Count 2 (Blog comments): This is the big surprise - comments this month are massively up on normal. Generally I can expect about 25 a day but this February it's been nearer 35 which is phenomenal. I haven't even cheated and included a deliberately interactive post (like asking you where's the highest and lowest you've ever been). The increase could be because you've been missing human communication, so an opportunity to broadcast your thoughts is increasingly welcome. But more likely, I suspect, is that I've been writing more about things you can actually relate to. A lot of my posts are normally about places you've never been, but because I can't travel I've been forced to write about more general topics which means you now have something to say. Pleasingly the increase isn't just the same few commenters droning on and on because well over 300 different people have commented this month. Thanks everyone, because it's you that help to bring this page to life. Total number of comments on this webpage in February 2020: 702 Total number of comments on this webpage in February 2021: 946 (↑35%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 700
Count 3 (Blog content): I thought I'd be writing less because I'm not going anywhere, but instead I'm writing more than last year, the equivalent of an extra paragraph a day. What's really kept the word level high is that I've not been interrupted by having any kind of social life, leaving me nothing else to do of an evening but type. It's been a challenge to keep on finding stuff to write about given the constrained horizons we're living under, but my local area continues to throw up jewels and the wider situation's always blogworthy. It means I'm still averaging over 1000 words a day, the equivalent of writing five novels a year, which remains an excellent way to keep myself occupied. Total number of words in diamond geezer in February 2020: 27316 Total number of words in diamond geezer in February 2021: 32122 (↑15%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 31700
Count 4 (Sleep): I'm sleeping less than last February but not much less, perhaps by twenty minutes a night. I put this down to being more likely to listen right to the end of the midnight news summary, and also the handful of days when I get up really early to go to the supermarket while it's quiet. Seven hours a night isn't a bad average under the circumstances. Total number of hours spent sleeping in February 2020: 199 Total number of hours spent sleeping in February 2021: 190 (↓5%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 185
Count 5 (Nights out): I'm not an especially social person of an evening, indeed this count has only once surged into double figures, but never before has it been rock bottom zero. Normally I can expect a weekly trip to BestMate's sofa but lockdown has killed off that small pleasure... and indeed all expectation of social interaction whatsoever. Checking back I see my last night out was in the middle of October, almost twenty weeks ago, and it could be some time yet before I get to enjoy another. The number of nights in February 2020 I went out and was vaguely sociable: 4 The number of nights in February 2021 I went out and was vaguely sociable: 0 (↓100%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 6
Count 6 (Alcohol intake): For the purposes of this long-term count my definition of alcohol has always been a specific gassy bottle of German lager. It's become increasingly hard to source in pubs in recent years but I always keep a stash in my fridge and open one occasionally as an accompaniment to dinner. This February I've opened three, and that is the entirety of my alcohol consumption this month. You may be doing a lot better than that, or arguably a lot worse. Total number of bottles of Becks I drank in February 2020: 0 Total number of bottles of Becks I drank in February 2021: 3 (↑3) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 3
Count 7 (Tea intake): My tea consumption has always been impressively consistent, and strangely lockdown hasn't altered that. I might have expected to be drinking more given that my days are now spent adjacent to my kettle, but somehow I've remained within my normal 120-135 window. One cuppa after I wake up, one after I get back from my morning walk, two in the afternoon and maybe another in the early evening helps to bring structure to my day. And so I remain a four-and-a-half cups-a-day man. Total number of cups of tea I drank in February 2020: 122 Total number of cups of tea I drank in February 2021: 128 (↑5%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 126
Count 8 (Trains used): As anticipated, total collapse. What's normally a monthly total of over 100 individual train journeys has dwindled to zero, for obvious reasons, and will likely remain at zero for some time yet. On the bright side I haven't heard the 'See It Say It Sorted' announcement for the last fifty weeks and that has been a blessed relief. Total number of trains I travelled on in February 2020: 136 Total number of trains I travelled on in February 2021: 0 (↓100%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 122
Count 9 (Steps walked): Last February I was averaging seven miles of walking a day but this month that's risen to 10. That's because I always go out for a walk every day and that walk tends to be quite long (and because I'm not sitting down on public transport when I want to get somewhere). Amazingly I've exceeded 20,000 steps every single day this month, even the icy snowy freezy ones, which I'm sure is a personal record. I don't expect to maintain this level of footslogging in future Februaries because I'll have other things to do, but it has been doing wonders for my waistline. Total number of steps I walked in February 2020: 405000 Total number of steps I walked in February 2021: 671000 (↑66%) Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 340000
Count 10 (Mystery count): This should surprise absolutely nobody under the circumstances, but the legendary diamond geezer Mystery Count continues to be nil. A stay at home order combined with societal lockdown is not conducive to any increase. Total number of times that the mystery event happened in February 2020: 0 Total number of times that the mystery event happened in February 2021: 0 Average for February 2015 - February 2019: 0
Count 11 (Hours spent out of the house): This is a new category for 2021 because I thought it might be interesting. It turns out I've spent 96 hours out of the house this month which equates to an average of 3½ hours a day (i.e. 20½ hours indoors). I thought that was grim until I trawled back through my diary and Oyster record for last February and discovered my 2020 average was only five hours a day. If only I'd known it'd be my last chance to get out and about for ages I'd have gone out and about a lot more but no, I only made a few big trips and only left the capital once. Indoors isn't a bad place to be but sheesh, once I get the chance again, carpe diem. Total number of hours spent out of the house in February 2020: 134 Total number of hours spent out of the house in February 2021: 96
Count 12 (Hand washes): This is another new category for 2021, indeed it was your suggestion. Unfortunately it turned out to be a duff suggestion because it equates to "number of times I normally wash my hands per day plus one", which is what happens when you only go out for exercise once daily. Total number of times I washed my hands in February 2021: 125
Thank goodness you also suggested some other ideas, which I also kept myself busy by counting...
» Number of hours I spend watching TV: 90 (that's 3 hours a day, and includes catch-up)
» Number of hours listening to radio shows: 288 (because it turns out I am very much a radio kind of person)
» Number of conversations I'm involved in outdoors: 13 (a lot higher than I was expecting, mostly people seeking directions or begging for money)
» Number of fruit and vegetables I eat: 142 portions (hurrah, that just exceeds my 5-a-day)
» Number of packets of crisps I eat: 56 (one as a snack during my morning walk, and one later indoors)
» Number of chocolate biscuits I eat: 42 (I'm dead impressed it's been that low)
» Number of Creme Eggs I eat: 4 (I am not addicted)
» Number of photos I take while out and about: 1615 (of which you only see a fraction)
» Number of kingfisher sightings: 2 (plus 3 herons and 1 little egret)
» Number of boroughs visited: 9 (last February it was 33)
» Number of times I put on a mask: 7 (I told you it'd be 7, and it was)
» Number of hours I spend producing posts for this blog: I lost count, sorry (but probably around 200-ish...out of a month that's 672 hours long)
I did suggest that you might count something specific during February 2021, so let us know if you did.
Here's hoping February 2022 will see a return to normal, or nearly normal, rather the oddities of this most anomalous February.