The Spectator

Barometer | 1 November 2018

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On the wagon

A ‘caravan’ of several thousand Central American migrants was reported to be travelling through Mexico towards the southern US border. The concept of a caravan comes from karwan, a Persian word for a group of merchants who would travel together to take advantage of safety in numbers. In its turn it is believed to have derived from the Sanskrit word for camel. It is first recorded in English in the late 17th century for a large number of people travelling together, and soon afterwards became a word for a covered wagon — predating the motor car by two centuries.

A wing and a prayer

The owner of Leicester City football club, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, died along with four others when his helicopter crashed shortly after taking off from the ground after a Premiership match. Meanwhile, a Boeing 737 crashed in Indonesia, killing all on board. How safe are helicopters compared with fixed-wing aircraft?

Accidents per 100,000 flight hours

Commercial helicopter


Commercial fixed wing


Non-commercial helicopter


Non-commercial fixed wing


Social media blues

Philip Hammond announced that every school is to have a dedicated mental health team, following fears that social media is causing an increase in depression and other psychiatric symptoms. Does using social media affect children’s mental health?

Percentage reporting ‘high or very high’ total difficulties scores — a questionnaire-based measure used to identify children at risk of mental illness. (A high score indicates elevated risk.)

Do not use social media


Up to three hours a day


More than three hours a day


Source: UK Household Longitudinal Study

Not coining it

The Chancellor revealed there will be a commemorative 50p coin to mark Brexit next year. How much are previous commemorative 50p pieces now worth as collectors’ items (depending on condition)?

Peter Rabbit (2016)


Battle of Hastings (2016)


25th anniversary of Britain’s

EU membership (1998)


Sir Isaac Newton (2017)


Entry into Common Market



D Day Landings (1994)


Kew Gardens (2009)