Wednesday 16 March 2011 by Malcolm Everall

Ailing Census 2011 to be redrafted as ‘fighting fantasy’ novel


The critically-panned Census questionnaire is to be revamped as an all-action sword-and-sorcery adventure after focus groups complained that it was ‘dry,’ ‘lifeless’, and ‘lacking in fight sequences’.

And bosses of the struggling project have hired a team of new scriptwriters in a last-minute bid to inject fresh orcs and fur-clad barbarian women with large breasts.

“I filled out the first page, no problem,” says disappointed census respondent Eddie Muraszko. “Name: Bodkin the Wise. Ethnic group: Half-elf. Profession: fighter/assassin. But then there was all this crap about central heating.”

“I mean, duuuh.”

Census respondents in England and Wales have faced an impatient wait for the 2011 survey after the huge success of its prequel, “The 2001 Census of Kharadkum Forest,” which pitted residents of England and Wales against the evil necromancer Duke Hawkfist and his army of sylvan zombies.

Residents of Scotland and Northern Ireland were also required to combat the forces of evil.

Armed only with a pair of dice, a pencil and a sense of civic responsibility, residents joined the quest to record accurate population data and retrieve the Jewel of Ak’Akaar from the sorcerer’s clutches before his army of undead could be released on the 58,789,194 unsuspecting permanent residents of the UK.

Census 2011

The document was so popular that it spawned its own spin-off merchandise, including a Tamagotchi – which ‘died’ unless it was fed with precise demographic information – and a dedicated taskbar on Windows XP, which returned a series of unique Census-related error messages.

It was even referenced by Britney Spears in the video for I’m a Slave 4 U, where the singer is briefly seen assessing the number of habitable rooms in her permanent dwelling.

But the 2011 sequel seems doomed to failure after disappointed census fans pronounced it ‘a heap of boring shit’.

“Look at this,” says 22 year old unmarried English white student Calvin Leakey from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, opening the document and reading at random.

“‘Question 22 – What passports do you hold?’ I mean, what a fricking anticlimax. When I fill in a census, the least I expect is to be locked in a death-struggle with a Dwarvish wizard whose iron grip can only be broken if I can remember my UK Passport number. And the last four digits of my postcode.”

But census director Glen Watson says criticism of the questionnaire has been ‘blown out of proportion’ by what he describes as ‘a handful of bitter lunatics’.

“We have always been prepared to listen to constructive criticism,” he says.

“Everybody knows that we are experimenting with a number of new storylines this time, and they may take a while to get into.”

“But by the time you get to the bit where you stride into the Eagle’s Beak tavern with your sword drawn and have to give the full postal address of your main employer, you will be hooked.”

“Honestly.”

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