I like lists.
Always have done and at this stage of my life (fading memory, more finicky things to do that I can’t find an excuse for ignoring, etc etc) I presumably always will.
I can’t remember when I started making lists but it was probably as soon as I’d more than one of anything.
I know that it was all a bit obsessive. I had notebooks full of lists – model soldiers, Dinky toys, foreign stamps, even fireworks (saved up for in a weekly club at the newsagents and duly listed year after year by name and cost).
When music began to take over my life I would not only catalogue every record I bought but I compiled my own weekly Top 40 complete with new releases, tips for the top, label details (UK and USA) and so forth.
Looking back it sounds a little creepy but in the absence of computer games, satellite television and mobile phones how else was a cash-strapped, not overly sporty, young male going to spend his idle hours?
Girls? Forget it. I’ve mentioned before I went an all-boys grammar school. There was no youth club nearby. And anyway I was a gangly, bespectacled teen who looked more like Jonathan King (in his pre-controversial Everyone’s Gone To The Moon pop days) than a rock god
So I was, shall we say, a late developer. If I’d made a list of “Top 10 Things I Must Do Soon” at number one would have been “Make Another List” and at number 10 “Discover How To Get a Girlfriend.”
Thankfully I eventually grew out of listing absolutely everything and grew into discovering the opposite sex. But I still have a soft spot for both.
Over the years the sign of a true friend was someone you could tackle at any time of the day or night with such challenges as “10 Best Songs With A Day of the Week In the Title” (eg Monday Monday – Mamas and Papas, Wednesday Morning 3AM – Simon and Garfunkel, Friday On My Mind – The Easybeats) or “10 Rock Acts With Names Inspired By Insects” (eg The Beatles, Adam and the Ants, Spider and The Flies, The Bugs).
In the pre Google days the sign of the truest friend was one who you did not come to blows with about how right or wrong your list was.
These days the majority of my lists are of the shopping or chores variety. And how annoying is it if the shopping list is compiled by the non-shopping member of the household? The Manager compiles her lists with an annoying spontaneity – for example potatoes next to Illy coffee, followed by chunky chips then houmous. I mean, honestly, if you work from top to bottom like me this can mean so much wasted time because potatoes are stacked nowhere near Illy coffee and chunky chips are supermarket miles (they’re like dog years) away from the houmous.
Anyway I can’t tell you how relieved I was to discover I’m not alone in the list department. Journalist John Rentoul has just published Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top 10s, from Politics to Pop (Elliott & Thompson - £9.99, or as an e-book £4.99).
He rightly points out that 10 part lists have been in fashion since Moses came down from the mountain with the basis for the first ever pub quiz.
In Rentoul’s book can be found such delights as “Signs With Double Meanings” (eg “this door is alarmed”), “Stupid Car Names” (such as the Mazda Bongo Brawny) and “Genuine Shop Names” (his favourite is Melon Cauli, a greengrocer in Pheasey, Birmingham).
I still prefer the pop ones but at least I now know what is top of my Christmas present list this year.
Staying dry for this month?
So how is “Go Sober For October” going with you?
In the excitement of writing about Stoptober (the challenge to stop smoking for October) and the anticipation of Movember (grow a moustache for charity in November) a couple of weeks ago, I completely forgot about Macmillan Cancer Support’s initiative asking people to give up booze for a month and donate their sponsorship money to the charity.
According to new research by the charity the average Brit spends an alarming 315 days during their lifetime being hung over.
That’s almost a year with the promise of “never again” rattling round an aching head – and made all the worse that we shouldn’t even be starting drinking until our late teens.
It’s the kind of statistic that makes you wonder (a) how do they work out something like that? (b) why spoil our fun by reminding us? (c) where’s that bottle of wine I opened last night – surely I didn’t polish it all off?
I’d forgotten all about “Go Sober For October” until a Bar Buddy who had lasted all of four days reckoned he’d feel a whole lot better donating the full month’s sponsorship money to Macmillan Cancer Support straight away then meeting everyone back at the pub the next evening for beer business as usual.
I’ll drink to that.