Here is a contender for the least-likely sentence ever to appear in a leader column: if only everyone could be more like the people of the Midlands.
Not for the flatness of their vowels, of course (or vewels, as our Brummie readers might have it). Nor for their development of the pork scratching as a tasty snack. No, the Midland attribute that must arouse our universal admiration must be its citizens’ loyalty towards their evening newspapers.
For one of the figures that leaps out from the Newspaper Society’s new survey of newspaper habits across the UK is that 27 per cent of people from the Midlands read an evening newspaper.
Of course, the concentration of urban centres including Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Leicester and Nottingham, all served by fine newspapers, helps. But it’s still an impressive figure – twice as high a percentage as the next nearest regions, the North West and Yorkshire.
They’re not so on-the-ball at the start of the day, though – just two per cent read a regional morning.
For that breakfast-time loyalty we must turn to the readers of the East, 12 per cent of whom enjoy a regional read over their coffee and Corn Flakes.
Meanwhile, on Sundays, it’s the Northern Irish who take on the mantle, with 18 per cent of them making time for their local paper on the Sabbath.
So all regional publishers need to do is isolate the DNA for the morning alertness of Easterners, the evening attentiveness of Midlanders, and the Sunday inquisitiveness of the Northern Irish – and use it to build the perfect reader. Simple! Meanwhile, how is this for a new variation on an old joke: a Brummie, an East Anglian and an Ulsterman walk into a pub … and have a very well-informed conversation about local issues.