The Commission for Social Care Inspection has reported that more and more elderly people are relying on relatives as the population in the UK ages. In England alone, there are 4.7 million people over 18 who are unpaid carers for elderly or disabled people.
(It is alleged that this kind of care of the elderly in the UK saves the British state £57bn a year. I'm afraid, they'll have to look after me when I'm old and grey.)
According to Tesco supermarket razorblades are stolen more than other products.
(In a report in the Guardian it seems that Tescos take a digital photo of you each time you pick up a Gillette razorblade from the store's shelf - it only takes one to prompt the camera - and again when you present the pack at the checkout. Tesco says that the photos are "temporarily stored", but does not specify for how long. However, Smart Labels Analyst magazine explains that this system enables the store to "blacklist certain shoppers and keep an eye on them". In his interview with the magazine, Alan Robinson recounts an occasion when his Cambridge store was able to show the police a photograph of a shoplifter in the act of removing two packets of razors from the shelf: "The police were completely flabbergasted, having never seen anything like it in their lives.")
According to market researchers TNS, 85% of UK households have a loyalty card.
(Loyalty cards are issued by supermarkets and department stores, they entitle you to freebies or cash simply for shopping. Of course, retailers get something in return: they record information about what you buy and build up a profile about you. And the most annoying thing of all is that every time you go to pay you will be asked "Have you got a ..... card?")
A huge storm swept the UK - the most powerful to hit England since Burns' Night 1990 - it caused even more damage in northern Europe after developing what's known as a "sting jet", caused by cold air high above the clouds rushing down to Earth like an avalanche of high wind.
Finland is the only country in the world which broadcasts the news in Latin.
(Nuntii Latini - News in Latin - is a weekly review of world news in Classical Latin, the only international broadcast of its kind in the world, produced by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. I don't know why this cheers me up so much, but it does. Maybe it appeals to my belief that no language should ever die out completely.)
Sophia Loren's first marriage, aged 22, to the recently deceased film producer Carlo Ponti, was a proxy marriage with lawyers taking their places.
(Seemingly Ponti was still married to his first wife and the Catholic Church would not let them divorce. They were married by proxy in Mexico, with lawyers taking their places. I thought it would be wonderful if someone found a mistake had been made and the two lawyers were actually married instead.)
(According to the Financial Times nowadays a king's ransom is worth approximately £685m. They worked it out based on the sum paid by Eleanor of Aquitaine to secure the release of Richard the Lionheart in 1194.)
Around 50,000 tonnes of CO2 is emitted by UK traffic lights each year through energy use.(According to the UK Energy Research Centre switching from the existing incandescent lightbulbs in traffic lights to LEDs could save around 57,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2010.)
The Tower of London has appointed a female 'Beefeater' for the first time in its history. (Now this doesn't mean she'll be chomping through steaks and pies, the job title "Beefeater" is more formally known as a Yeoman Warder of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London, and Members of the Sovereign's Body Guard of the Yeoman Guard Extraordinary - in other words "security guard")
According to the UK Energy Research Centre, the UK currently has an estimated 420,000 sets of traffic and pedestrian lights.(This number is increasing around 3% annually. Pretty soon we'll all have one each.)
The blogging phenomenon is set to peak in 2007. In fact according to analysts Gartner there are 200 million blogs which are no longer being updated. The reason for the levelling off in blogging is supposedly due to the fact that most people who would ever start a web blog have already done so (once or twice).
(According to the same study, those who love blogging are committed to keeping it up (so to speak) while others have become bored and moved on. In November 2006 blog tracking firm Technorati reported that 100,000 new blogs were being created every day, and 1.3 million blog posts were written.
Technorati tracks more than 57 million blogs, of which it believes around 55% are "active" and updated at least every three months. Ha! How's about every week - well every two weeks over Christmas.)