I love the on-line census from 1901 and 1911. It’s full of amazing information about the people who walked our streets a century ago and as you wander through its pages, you can’t help but be drawn into the diversity of our culture. I might, if I find time, write up a little thing on what I discovered during my trawl of those who went before but that’s for another outing. Today, I want to tell you about idiots, imbeciles and lunatics.
One of the headings on the census return form asks about specified illnesses. Write the respective infirmities opposite the name of the afflicted person, it says. And what are the infirmities?
Deaf and dumb.
Imbecile or idiot.
Obviously, you couldn’t leave it there. You’d have to do a search on imbeciles, idiots and lunatics, wouldn’t you?
So I did, and I came up with an interesting result.
In 1901, there were 1464 idiots, 1958 imbeciles and 514 lunatics. Ten years later there were only 1116 idiots, 1884 imbeciles and 357 lunatics, which seems to indicate considerable progress, or else a greater efficiency in hiding or murdering embarrassing relatives.
The vast majority of imbeciles in both years were in the counties we now call Northern Ireland, whereas the idiots seem to be spread out across the country. On the other hand, lunatics show a distinct preference for northern counties.
I don’t know what lessons we can learn from this, but I’m sure regular readers have a view.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could put that on the census form today?
Please indicate if anyone in your house is a …
Please also indicate if anyone listed is a …
- Piss head
Isn’t it great when you abandon all that old PC shit? I reckon the Victorians had some of it nailed.
Imbecile? Idiot? Lunatic?
Line up over there.
I know. I know. They invented the lunatic asylum, but it was well-meant. An asylum is a place to find peace. It was only the grasping gobshites who ruined the whole thing by having people committed to stop them inheriting the farm and anyway, we can’t have lunatics wandering the streets, can we?