The chairman is driven almost to despair by the news that more people are likely to get married than to change their current account


“Do you ever feel your life is stuck in a rut?” sighed the chairman of the implausibly-sized investment company Second Coming Asset Management as we enjoyed a pint or two of World’s Most Optimistic Or Untargeted Email at The One From Threadneedle Inviting Me To Apply For A Place In Its Sprint Relay Triathlon.

“What do you think?” I replied. “You and I have been meeting up almost every week since I dare not think when for a couple of pints of something mildly amusing so, even if I’m not stuck in a rut, my liver certainly is. For the record, though, I should stress it is a rut both my liver and I are perfectly happy to be stuck in.”

“Good idea,” nodded the chairman. “You wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.” “Exactly,” I said. “And even if we are stuck in a rut, my liver and I are in fine company because, according to a survey, that is how almost 14 million Britons currently feel.” “Oh no,” sighed the chairman. “I should have seen this coming.”

“Apparently the company was examining the validity of the adage you are more likely to divorce than change your bank account,” I continued undaunted. “And it turns out Brits are actually more likely to get married than switch their current account, despite the cost of a wedding in the UK averaging above £20,000.

“The good, good people at  found 21 per cent of people are likely to get married within the next 12 months, compared with just 15 per cent of people who believe they are likely to change their current account in that period.” “Hang on,” said the chairman. “Are you sure those figures are right.” “I’d imagine so,” I replied, “Cutting-and-pasting from a press release is pretty reliable.”

“But if that rate were to continue, we would end up with every single person in the UK married within the next five years,” the chairman pointed out. “Either that or a section of this country’s population is seriously flighty.” “As it happens, the survey also found a quarter of those whose lives are in a rut said they would split up with their partner or have an affair as they feel their lives are boring,” I said.

“Still, don’t despair completely – two-fifths of those who are bored say they are likely just to change their type of haircut while a third would change the make-up they wear in a bid to make life more exciting.” “That actually makes me despair even more,” said the chairman. “Who are these people?”

“2,006 nationally representative UK adults aged 18 or more,” I replied helpfully.

“Does that suggest we are about the most superficial, vacuous and fickle nation in the world?” asked the chairman. “I’m afraid I don’t have any definitive data on that,” I replied. “Although I do have something on perceived national stereotypes within Europe.” “OK,” said the chairman. “Let’s get that out of the way and pray for something more substantial next week.”

“Oh, this is substantial,” I assured him. “For it is a survey by Pew Research on which countries in Europe are seen as trustworthy, arrogant and compassionate. So, for example, Germany is cited as the most trustworthy country by all the largest European states – except for Greece, which sees itself as the most trustworthy and Germany, of course, as the least so.

“Otherwise, Britain sees France as the least trustworthy, Poland agrees with Greece it is Germany and the rest are split between Greece and Italy – with Italy, rather touchingly voting for itself in that regard. That however is a rare moment of modesty in the survey with both the Greeks and the Germans seeing themselves as most trustworthy, most compassionate and least arrogant.

“The Brits also see themselves as least arrogant and most compassionate but we are alone in that view. Our only other mentions are as the least compassionate country – according to France and Germany. However, we still lose 6-2 in that league to Germany, which also wins 5-3 against France as the most arrogant country.” “All of which tells us what exactly?” asked the chairman. “I think you may have misunderstood my function here,” I replied.