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. It's changed a heck of a lot, not just because of the pandemic but also because my circumstances have evolved considerably over the last two decades. Below are my ten counts for February 2022, each compared to the corresponding count for February 2021. And because this is the twentieth time I've blogged The Count, expect a bit more retrospective quantitative introspection than usual. Part one yesterday, part two today.
Count 6 (Alcohol intake): For the purposes of this long-term count my definition of alcohol had always been a specific gassy bottle of German lager. This year I've had to admit defeat because it's become increasingly hard to source in pubs and even my local supermarket has stopped stocking it, so now any bottle will now do. This has however proved immaterial because I haven't been to a pub to drink any. Instead I'm sitting here typing and have just remembered I still have a bottle chilling in my fridge so have chosen to open it rather than leave my total at zero, and this is how counting things can seriously distort your data. Total number of bottles of lager I drank in February 2021: 3 Total number of bottles of lager I drank in February 2022: 1 (↓67%)
20 years: This count is heavily dependent on my social life, which as you can see has had it its ups and downs in Februaries past. 2003 easily wins with an average of two bottles a day, most years scrape along at more like one a week, and 2018 is the last time I spotted Becks stocked behind the bar. Please note that this data is not always representative of my entire monthly alcohol consumption, indeed were I counting bottles of wine then 2022's total would be four halves. (2003: 58) (2004: 17) (2005: 0) (2006: 7) (2007: 1) (2008: 28) (2009: 4) (2010: 3) (2011: 20) (2012: 14) (2013: 2) (2014: 4) (2015: 0) (2016: 1) (2017: 10) (2018: 5) (2019: 0) (2020: 0)
Count 7 (Tea intake): I might have expected to be drinking more this year and last, given that more of my day has been spent adjacent to my kettle, but instead I've remained within my normal 120-140 window. One cuppa after I wake up, one slotted in before lunch, 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 2021: 128 Total number of cups of tea I drank in February 2022: 132 (↑3%)
20 years: The only blip in my sequence is the year kettles were banned in the office and I absolutely refused to risk a substandard brew from the vending machine or pay over the odds in the canteen. Other than 2005 my tea consumption has always been impressively consistent, whether at work, in lockdown or on the loose. A quick calculation suggests I must have drunk over 30000 cups of tea over the last two decades, which feels like a lot, and I can also confirm that the majority of these have been Earl Grey. (2003: 135) (2004: 135) (2005: 81) (2006: 128) (2007: 137) (2008: 134) (2009: 129) (2010: 136) (2011: 135) (2012: 133) (2013: 127) (2014: 129) (2015: 128) (2016: 133) (2017: 122) (2018: 123) (2019: 121) (2020: 122)
Count 8 (Trains used): After last February's rock bottom zero (courtesy of Lockdown Three) this February has seen a mild rebound. But that rebound is only recent. Prior to this weekend I'd only been on three trains but then I took the plunge and bought myself an annual Travelcard again and since then I've been on several. It's about time I got back out there, and more pertinently I thought I'd better buy one before the cost rises by £68 tomorrow. It means a lot more zipping around the capital again (plus you can expect a wider range of blogging topics so it's good news for you too). Observations so far: a) it's quite busy already b) they still haven't opened up the front seats on the DLR c) it's so much faster than walking.
Total number of trains I travelled on in February 2021: 0 Total number of trains I travelled on in February 2022: 17 (↑17)
20 years: My monthly train total has also been pretty consistent, pandemic notwithstanding, and is equivalent to about four trains a day. Initially that was very much a reflection of my daily commute, but it's grown to become a leisure expectation because you can't beat the freedom of the city. (2003: 103) (2004: 109) (2005: 117) (2006: 107) (2007: 100) (2008: 117) (2009: 103) (2010: 83) (2011: 109) (2012: 118) (2013: 139) (2014: 101) (2015: 124) (2016: 132) (2017: 108) (2018: 110) (2019: 135) (2020: 136)
Count 9 (Steps walked): This has been my second February of extreme walking, which is what happens when you still want to get about but don't use public transport. I make sure I go out for a walk every day and that walk tends to be quite long, unless it's very wet or very windy in which I case I rein things back a bit. a few adverse days have nudged my total down from last year's record, but my daily average is still a whopping 22,000 steps and I'm very pleased with that. I also can't believe I've notched up 290 miles this month, which is the equivalent of walking to Hull and back, and makes for a daily average in excess of ten miles. 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 2021: 671000 Total number of steps I walked in February 2022: 627000 (↓7%)
10 years: I only started counting steps after I bought a clever phone in 2012, but back then I was averaging 10,000 steps a day and now it's double that. Never underestimate the spur to exercise that a digital pedometer in your pocket provides. (2013: 273300) (2014: 254600) (2015: 282300) (2016: 238200) (2017: 328100) (2018: 342000) (2019: 464000) (2020: 405000)
Count 10 (Mystery count): This'll surprise nobody under the circumstances, but the legendary diamond geezer Mystery Count continues to be nil. I can't tell you how exciting it would have been had things gone otherwise, but that's because it's a Mystery Count and I literally cannot tell you. Total number of times that the mystery event happened in February 2021: 0 Total number of times that the mystery event happened in February 2022: 0
20 years: Yes, sorry, that's 20 consecutive zeroes. You may remember there was one year when the count potentially hit 0.3, but I decided a fractional occurrence wasn't a true Mystery Event so rounded it back down to zero. My favourite statistical anecdote from 20 years of Mystery is that had The Count occurred in any month other than February there'd have been at least one occurrence by now. Alas I picked February and so the wait goes on. My ongoing apologies. (2003: 0) (2004: 0) (2005: 0) (2006: 0) (2007: 0) (2008: 0) (2009: 0) (2010: 0) (2011: 0) (2012: 0) (2013: 0) (2014: 0) (2015: 0) (2016: 0) (2017: 0) (2018: 0) (2019: 0) (2020: 0)
I've also been counting a couple of extra things for 2022, as promised, so here are those results.
Count 11 (BBC content consumed): I don't have Netflix, Disney+ or Sky, nor can I tolerate the interruptions of commercial radio, so I consume a considerable amount of BBC content. To give you some idea how much, February only lasts for 672 hours so to have spent over 400 of those with the BBC is phenomenal. Most of that was radio programmes conveniently timeshifted via BBC Sounds, especially while out walking, but also as cheery background during the day. Watching TV only accounted for 67 hours so was outnumbered by radio by five to one - a much greater disparity than I was expecting. I'm pleased to confirm that my TV licence is exceptional value for money, working out at 1p for every 18 minutes of BBC content consumed. Long may the nation's greatest cultural bargain continue. Total number of hours of BBC content I consumed in February 2021: 378 Total number of hours of BBC content I consumed in February 2022: 405 (↑7%)
Count 12 (People spoken to): When you live alone you don't always speak to a lot of people face to face. Those of you who share a house would have reached 28 on this count purely by default, so the fact I didn't quite reach that low bar speaks volumes. Take out the people I've only spoken to because they were selling me something and my total drops to a miserly 16. Going round to BestMate's house deals with six of these, which leaves just 10 random social interactions across an entire month. This includes exchanging 'hello's with someone I passed on the stairs, commiserating briefly with two photographers about the state of the Dome and failing to tell a couple in Chingford where the nearest dog-friendly cafe was. My longest outdoor conversation was with a gravedigger in Edmonton, which isn't necessarily a fact to be proud of. At least 27 is better than my total last year, even if it's likely way below what yours would have been. Total number of people I spoke to face to face in February 2021: 20 Total number of people I spoke to face to face in February 2022: 27 (↑35%)
I did suggest that you might count something specific during February 2022, so do let us know if you did. Life's more interesting when you count it.