Happy New Year 2019


I was pleased to see Michael Palin and Twiggy get awards in the New Year Honours. They seem more worthty winners than lots I see on the list. The honour is supposed to be earned (in my humble view) for going more than the extra mile for country AND mankind. Often it seems as if you just need mild celebrity status and to be the worst of characters.


Talking of New Year’s honours, to celebrate the New Year here is the Royal Statistical Society’s Statistics of the Year Award 2018 – yes, there really is such a set of awards


This year’s Statistics of the Year announcement has a distinctly environmental theme as statistics relating to plastic waste and the use of solar energy emerged as the winners of this year’s International and UK categories respectively.


The commended entries cover a plethora of other issues, from the reduction in global ‘absolute poverty’ to the number of Jaffa cakes present in its Christmas tube – illustrating the phenomenon of ‘shrinkflation’.


1              The winning International Statistic of 2018 is 90.5%: the proportion of plastic waste that has never been recycled. Estimated at 6,300 million metric tonnes, it’s thought that around 12% of all plastic waste has been incinerated, with roughly 79% accumulating in either landfill or the natural environment (as sourced from Production, Use, and Fate of all plastics ever made by R Geyer, J R Jambeck and K Lavender Law).


‘It’s very concerning that such a large proportion of plastic waste has never been recycled’, says RSS President, Sir David Spiegelhalter, who chaired the Stats of the Year judging panel. ‘This statistic helps to show the scale of the challenge we all face. It has rightly been named the RSS’s ‘International Statistic of the Year’ for 2018.’


2              The winner of the UK Statistic of 2018 is 27.8%: the peak percentage of all electricity produced in the UK due to solar power on 30 June this year. This surprising figure reflects that fact that solar power was, while only briefly, the country’s number one electricity source – ahead of gas (sourced from Electric Insights).


Former National Statistician, Dame Jil Matheson, who was also on the SOTY judging panel, called the stat ‘a very welcome figure’. ‘2018 was a landmark year for solar-generated electricity in the UK – as well as for renewable energy more generally,’ she added.


‘The statistics on this list capture some of the zeitgeist of 2018,’ says RSS executive director Hetan Shah. ‘We were delighted with the quality and quantity of this year’s nominations – with well over 200 received.’


Now in its second year, the Statistics of the Year aim to show the sometimes surprising stories that numbers can tell us about the world. As well as David Spiegelhalter and Jil Matheson, other judges on the panel include BBC home affairs editor Mark Easton and Guardian US data editor Mona Chalabi.


A number of surprising statistics were selected as ‘highly commended’; those under the International category are as follows:


3              9.5: the percentage point reduction in worldwide ‘absolute poverty’ over the last ten years – meaning that the proportion of those living in this condition has more than halved since 2008. (sourced from the World Bank in 2018 and 2008).


4              64,946: the number of measles cases in Europe from November 2017 to October 2018 (sourced from the World Health Organization).


5              40%: the percentage of Russian males who do not live to age 65 – the proposed state pension age for men (sourced from the Times, Independent, Guardian and the World Health Organization).


6              $1.3 billion: the amount wiped off Snapchat’s value within a day of one Kylie Jenner tweet (sourced from Reuters, CNBC, Business Insider and the Guardian).


The UK ‘highly commended’ statistics for 2018 are:


7              6.4%: the percentage of female executive directors within FTSE 250 companies (sourced from Cranfield’s The Female FTSE Board Report 2018).


8              85.9%: the proportion of British trains that ran on time – the lowest for more than a decade (sourced from Passenger and Freight Rail Performance 2018-19 Q2 Statistical Release, Office of Road and Rail).


9              82%: the percentage of all GB retail shopping that is still in-store rather than online (sourced from Comparing “bricks and mortar” store sales with online retail sales: August 2018, Office for National Statistics).


10           16.7%: the percentage reduction in the number of Jaffa cakes in McVities’ Christmas tube, thus illustrating the concept of ‘shrinkflation’ (as reported in The Sun and Metro).



Marriage is a perpetual test of character. Anon


Happiness is…a nice little number


Always remember that you are unique; just like everyone else.


Love is…knowing it is going to be another amazing year


New Year’s Day – Taylor Swift

Highest Chart Position: The track did not chart in the UK. It  debuted at number 40 and later peaked at number 33 on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. It also peaked at number 41 on the US Billboard Country Airplay chart. It was Swift’s first appearance on both of these charts since her 2014 single “Shake It Off”. It has also peaked at number 50 on the Canadian Country chart.


Tuesday 1st January 2019

New Year’s Day

Hot Toddy Day

Z Day

Bloody Mary Day

Polar Bear Swim Day

Commitment Day

Euro Day (no need to celebrate that any more, then)

Copyright Law Day




©2018 Phil M Robinson &