Taking an A-Z look at 2010...

SO, 2010 is behind us, and what an eventful year it has been. We’ve seen a new Government, a dismal World Cup, a royal engagement and a worldwide fixation on the well-being of 30-odd blokes in a hole in Chile.

But in amongst the big news, there has been plenty of less-important-but-still-interesting titbits. Every day, the Times newsdesk is inundated with strange information, surveys, and oddities. Alone, they aren’t much of a story – but together, they paint a fascinating picture of South West life.

Content editor Simon Angear offers our A-Z of North Somerset in 2010.

A is for average. North Somerset’s Mr and Mrs Average are called Smith, live in a three-bedroom house in High Street, drive a Ford Focus, and own a cat. (The next most common names are Jones, Brown and Taylor.)

B is for bread. The average North Somerset person spends �1.17 a week on bread, �3.42 on vegetables, �2.21 on meat, 90p on cheese, �1.17 on fish, �3.33 on cereals, and �4.23 on drinks and confectionary. We also spend �10.16 on eating out.

C is for crime. Around one in four households in the South West fell victim to some form of crime last year – a rate which sounds high, but which is the second lowest regional tally in the country. Some 6,700 South West residents are currently in prison.

D is for drugs. Nearly one in five South West 18-24 year olds has tried illegal drugs, and six per cent admit ‘frequent use’. While this is below the national average, more class A hallucinogenic drugs are taken in the South West than anywhere else.

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E is for education. One in five North Somerset residents is educated to degree level or higher, but on the flip side, nearly one in four has no formal qualifications at all. Some 60 per cent of current school students are achieving five GCSEs at A*-C.

F is for faith – and most of us have it in one form or another. Some 75 per cent of North Somerset people consider themselves to be Christians. Islam is the district’s second most popular religion, with just 0.24 per cent. 17 per cent are atheists.

G is for getting around. The average South West person travels 262 miles a year on foot or cycling, 4,112 miles as a car driver, 2,371 miles as a car passenger, and 762 miles on public transport. Our 7,736-mile total makes us a well-travelled region.

H is for homes. The average South West home costs �185,000. This compares to a national high of �260,000 in London, and a low of �120,000 in the North East. Quite a jump from our average incomes of �28,600 (men) and �18,600 (women).

I is for income. A South West adult’s median weekly gross income stands at �460 – well short of the UK’s average of �489. Maybe that’s why more than five per cent of us hold down a second job – more than anywhere else in the country.

J is for jobs – and South West kids know exactly what they want to be. Boys aim to be footballers (13 per cent), police officers (seven per cent) or vets (six per cent), while girls favour life as a vet (19 per cent), teacher (15 per cent) or artist (11 per cent).

K is for kids, and blimey, don’t we spoil ‘em? That’s especially true of South West grandparents, whose average spend per child this year included �43 on clothes, �38 on toys, �36 for Christmas, �31 for birthday and �14 for sweets – a �250-plus total.

L is for luck. More than one in three of us fancies our chances in the national lottery, and plays on a regular basis. This is less than almost anywhere in the country – although our average weekly expenditure of �4.50 ranks as the second highest.

M is for Mark, which statistics show is the South West’s most commonly divorced male name. David and Michael were second and third, while the top three ladies’ names heading for a split were Susan, Caroline and Nicola.

N is for names, too. Last year, the most common names given to new babies in the South West were Oliver, Jack, Charlie, Harry and Alfie for boys, and Olivia, Ruby, Chloe, Emily and Sophie for girls.

O is for old age. The South West boasts one of the country’s biggest pension-age populations, making up 22.5 per cent of the total population. Men in North Somerset can expect to live to the age of 79, with women’s life expectancy standing at 83.

P is for parties, and a recent survey showed the ultimate dinner party guest for South West residents would be… Simon Cowell! Also making the top 10 were comedian Stephen Fry, heartthrob actor George Clooney and former Beatle John Lennon.

Q is for Queen, whose Bohemian Rhapsody was voted the South West’s favourite rock song. It pipped Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven and The Who’s Baba O’Reilly. Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On is the region’s most hated tune.

R is for race. Hardly the UK’s most ethnically-diverse region, North Somerset’s 188,564 population comprises 97.1 per cent white people, 1.7 per cent Asian people, and 0.9 per cent black people.

S is for single. Some 28 per cent of South West residents live alone, 30 per cent live as a married couple, and 31 per cent live together but are not married. Three per cent live in house-shares, and around six per cent live as one-parent families.

T is for traffic jams. More than 55,000 North Somerset workers face a daily commute, and nearly 40 per cent of households own two or more cars, so it’s little wonder traffic levels have increased by 14 per cent in 10 years – the country’s biggest rise.

U is for unemployment. Despite the recession, the South West boasts easily the lowest unemployment rate for people aged up to 34. While the region slips to second for over-34s, only three per cent of us are jobless.

V is for vegetables – something people in Somerset know little about, apparently. A survey revealed one in eight county residents thought Brussels sprouts grew on trees. 85 per cent of us express a preference for locally-grown produce, though.

W is for wet – and it certainly is. The South West is easily England’s rainiest region, with around 47 per cent more rainfall here than the rest of the country. On the plus side, it shouldn’t interfere with your summer plans, as 62 per cent of it falls in winter.

X is for x-rated – and that’s because one in six South West 18-24 year olds admits to having had a drunken one-night stand which they regret. And, talking booze – South West men drink a little below national averages, but the region’s women drink more.

Y is for yum yum! The South West’s best-loved dishes include spaghetti bolognese, chow mein, roast dinner and chilli, but the favourite? No surprise to many – it’s curry. And for dessert? Apple crumble and custard bagged more than half the vote.

Z is for ZZZs. In an average day we spend 438 minutes sleeping. This compares to 165 minutes watching TV, 49 listening to music, 43 reading and 13 gardening.