LAKIN@LARGE - Europa Star: Surveying Surveys

November 2015

If you are a regular reader of our magazine or a visitor to the Europa Star website, you may have participated in our recent Reader Survey and/ or read about the results.

The aim of most surveys is to find out what people think about a particular political party, a potentially delicate international situation, pure market research for an as yet unknown product or, as in the case of our survey, to obtain a profile of the readership and whether or not they are satisfied with the magazine’s content – with the possibility to make suggestions as to how to improve it. The results can be found on pages 10-11 in our September issue.

Question 14, which was the last in our survey was: Do you have any recommendations to improve the magazine? We received many positive replies and suggestions with just one from a gentleman in Hypoluxo, Florida, who replied, and I quote, “Stop Larkin. His prose is turgid. He is not funny.”

The only Larkin I know is the poet and novelist Philip Larkin, but since he died in 1985 I assumed the reference was to my ‘Lakin at Large’ articles on the last page of the magazine. Naturally I was disappointed, but humour is capricious, what’s funny to some is unfunny to others, you smile, laugh out loud or, in this case, find it ‘turgid’. But turgid? I have always tried to make the articles lighthearted and, as I thought, easy to read but never sesquipedalian, magniloquent or fustian. Now I’m being turgid.

The thing about surveys is that they inevitably reveal unusual and intriguing results. For example, when Bill Clinton was still in his presidency and not long after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a survey was carried out that asked 1000 women whether or not they would sleep the President. The result: 1% said ‘Yes’; 2% said ‘No’ and 97% said ‘Never again!’

LAKIN@LARGE - Europa Star: Surveying Surveys

I recently participated in a telephone survey after a charming lady at the other end of the line convinced me it would take just a few minutes. Nearly half an hour later, having answered to the best of my ability all the meandering questions aimed at discovering my taste in tea, coffee and a variety of packaged food, the last question was: what was my age group? Then came the bombshell: “I’m sorry sir, you’re too old for the survey.” My immediate reaction was annoyance at having wasted so much time at achieving nothing, but suppressing my venom I asked why she hadn’t started with that question. Her reply was, “You sounded much younger.” There’s not much you can say to that is there? Type in ‘surveys’ on the internet and you’ll discover an amazing array of real and phoney reviews. One doubtful survey I found was supposedly carried out in the USA and concerned the various reasons men get out of bed in the middle of the night. According to the report, 2% are motivated by a desire to visit the bathroom, 3% have an urge to raid the refrigerator and the 95% balance claimed it was to go home.

All of which reminds me of the old story (I apologise if you’ve already heard it) about a student who decided to conduct a survey to discover favourite pastimes. He began his survey at a block of apartments close to his university, knocked on the first door and when a man answered he explained about his survey and asked his name and what was his favourite pastime.
“My name is John and I like watching bubbles in the bath.”
The student thanked him and despite the odd answer moved on to the next apartment. Again a man answered and he asked the same question.
The man replied, “I’m Brian and my favourite pastime is watching bubbles in the bath.”
After two more replies giving the same answer, the student, somewhat surprised and more than a little bemused, left the building, crossed the road and knocked on the door of a very modern glass-fronted house.
He rang the doorbell and a very attractive blonde opened the door. He explained the point of his survey and asked her name.
Well, you’ve got to laugh haven’t you – unless, that is, you come from Hypoluxo in Florida.

Source: Europa Star November 2015 Magazine Issue