Been busy. The builders have more or less finished - just a couple of skirting boards left. Lots of work at work. Lots of work at home.
But you couldn't expect me to ignore this story, could you ?
The fertility rate has hit its highest level since 1980 as more women in their late 30s and 40s have babies, official figures show.
The Office for National Statistics data revealed women are having 1.87 children on average - up from 1.8 in 2005. The fertility rate in England and Wales has been rising since the all-time low in 2001 of 1.63 following an almost continuous fall since the late 1980s. But experts predicted it was unlikely to keep rising.
The upturn has been largely driven by increasing birth rates among older women. The highest percentage increase for any age group was for women from 35 to 39 which rose by 7% in a year. Fertility rates have also doubled for women aged 40 and over in the last 20 years.
Professor Danny Dorling, an expert in human geography at Sheffield University, said the changes in recent years were being driven by the change in university admissions during the 1980s. "In that period many more women started to go to university which meant that they ended up delaying having children. I believe the fall that we have seen was due to this group and what is happening now is that these women are now having children but at a later age than they once did."
Danny Dorling seems to be a bit of a Steven 'Ludi' Simpson - tame left wing academic who can put the correct spin on the news.
The full stats (Excel) are here.
The BBC fail to pass on the ONS briefing reported in the Guardian.
The figures suggest that older mothers and migrant families are increasingly making up for younger British-born women choosing to have fewer babies. Keith Spicer, the ONS statistician behind the figures, said: "It's the largest numbers of live births since 1993 and fertility is at its highest in 26 years. The story really is the older mother and the country of the mother's birth."
The Telegraph also seems to think immigration's got something to do with the boom.
I imagine these figures will show another jump next year. There are a lot of Polish girls carrying bumps around Lidl and Poundland. What we're presumably seeing is a point of inflexion, where the rising graph of babies born annually to first, second and third generation immigrants at last compensates for the falling graph of native fertility - helped of course by those 186,000 abortions per year. The personal sure is political.
Last year the proportion of babies born to overseas mothers was 21%. The year before 20%. Before that 19%. This year more than 22%.
These figures are of course totally unconnected to this story.
Mohammed could soon become the most popular boy’s name in the country, as more and more Muslim parents choose to name their sons after the Islamic Prophet. When all the different spellings of the name are added up, the name was second only to Jack in last year’s registration of boys’ births... Offically the name did not appear in the list of top ten boys’ names published by the Office of National Statistics, because the total number of registrations is split into 16 different spelling variations. But when added together the name has eclipsed Thomas, which now lies in third place at 5,921 registrations, and Joshua, which lies in fourth with 5,808 registrations.
The frequency of the name increased by 12 per cent between 2005 and 2006. If it were to increase at the same rate, while the number of registrations of Jacks stayed the same, it will be the most popular boy’s name in the UK in 2008. The name entered the top 30 in 2000.
Demographic experts say high fertility rates among Muslims compared to the British population as a whole are driving the increase ... Although Muslims only account for about three per cent of the UK’s population, or about 1.8 million people, their birth rate is about three times higher than the national average, say demographers.
I'm not sure how that 1.8 million matches with Keith Ajegbo's "British Lessons for English Children" report, written in 2006.
"It is estimated that in ten years time, 15% of the workforce will be Muslim."
(Over at the Guardian Ed Husain (yes, that one) plays the "only 3% of the population" for all it's worth. Given the accuracy of government immigration figures, about 3p). I wouldn't think there were many little Mohammeds or Ayeshas among the 186,416 babies "terminated" in 2006.
Wheeling and Dealing
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