suffering from a heavy list…


pristine designer shopping list that I use as regularly as my snow shoes.

Advancing years and oncoming forgetfulness rush headlong toward each other. Like a mediaeval knight I depend on the lists* to keep them far enough apart in the hope of merely receiving a glancing blow rather than suffering a head on collision. Staying with the metaphor, the armour of willful forgetfulness served me well throughout much of  my working life: ” Oh, I can’t tell you how sorry I am, I just completely forgot to ..fill in the applicable” The supposition would be that this “applicable” had, of its own accord, willfully hidden itself in some dark recess of the labyrinthine maze of alcohol fogged grey matter, that was my contemporary mind, without my knowledge or consent thus rendering me blameless for any consequential impact my apparent forgetfulness might have caused. In that “best of times”, when forgetting, smoking and swearing were socially acceptable and PC meant Pretty Cool, my omission would undoubtedly have been temporarily annoying but that very annoyance, at whatever I had feigned to forget, would have quickly faded into the mists of lunch and was as soon forgotten by the annoyed as it had been by me. It is therefore surprising to me that in this leisured time of my life, when I have less need to remember things than at any previous time, the more conscious I am of forgetting them. Forgetting a meeting with the bank, forgetting an important client’s name or just forgetting that I should be in the studio rather than in the pub were serious “forgets” that I forgot and are but an unseasoned and minuscule hors d’oeuvre from the catalogue of my willful forgetfulness, none of which concerned me at the time and most certainly did not inspire me to write a list to prevent their recurrence. But now, when both profession and professionalism are in the past,  I do.

I write a lot of them, too many;  some of them are absurdly detailed yet remain the subject of continual editorial crises when critical additions and deductions are quickly made, the reasons for which are as quickly forgotten. Very often I forget that I have made the list at all and find that I need another list to remind me to refer to the list that I’ve forgotten. The result is a litter of bookmarks, computer reminders and notes clipped into crocodile faced  fridge stickers: yet I am able to avoid, miss or blindly walk past any of these aide memoires. They have become like a walking stick to a man who does not have a limp yet, being accustomed to its presence in his hand, without it becomes unsteady. What I do remember clearly is a time when I wasn’t concerned with either forgetting or remembering. That time in my life when I knew exactly what I wanted at any given moment…I wanted to get laid, to have a drink, to be rich, to be somewhere else, to be someone else: I knew exactly what I wanted. There was spontaneity and carelessness. And now it’s lists; lists to remind me of what I want or at least what I wanted when I wrote the list but which want shifts as slowly and surely as the sands of the Kalahari or, less dramatically, as a smiling man with an unnecessary walking stick….



The ‘lists’ were barriers which defined the battlefield in a tournament.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2016, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to suffering from a heavy list…

  1. Nadia says:

    Lists have become indispensable!

  2. Mad Dog says:

    I still rely on memory for shopping and so far so good, though if something important is going on I write a list just to be sure …and there’s always the theory that once can only remember about 7 important things at a time. However, staying up to late and drinking to much will probably take its toll and I’ll be very grateful for your list when the Alzheimer’s sets in. Mind you, I was chatting to Michael Heath yesterday and his mind is fantastic at 81 – that’s pretty spectacular considering that his best friends included Jeffrey Bernard and Francis Bacon!

  3. Sue says:

    Oh, yes….lists, lists of lists, and it goes on…

  4. I am a terminal list-writer. I leave them everywhere, but rarely accomplish the tasks on them. I find them in drawers, on the floor, and on the table (where I leave them on my way out to do the shopping). My solution has been to put a blackboard up on the kitchen wall, where I write up things that pop into my head, before I forget. More obvious when it’s scrawled on the wall, and saves trees too.

  5. Francesca says:

    Brilliant and so pertinent to my life at present. I have been meaning to do my own little post on list making one day and may still get around to it if I can find a suitable supporting prop, otherwise known as a photo. I make so many lists, but then go our and find the list from the week before in my handbag. My husband keeps a book of lists, know as Eric’s Book. But that’s a long story…

  6. Conor Bofin says:

    The Wife is epileptic and has been on medication for 30+ years to try to control the condition. It only partially works and a combination of the side effects of the drugs and post-concussive syndrome (from fitting, falling and hitting her head) mean that she has a truly awful memory. Were I to expand on your metaphor, I am like a spectator tied to his seat in the stand watching the knights bash into each other, from a distance, unable to have any influence on the outcome but knowing that both will be hurt in the process. It’s not a nice place to be.
    Your writing has not degenerated to any degree, even if you need to put “Write blog, utilising high quality language skills to entertain Conor.” on a weekly basis.
    I do hope you are well,

  7. Brilliant, Roger!! I live in your world of lists, my desk is covered with little to do notes here and there. I often forget to even look at them, because it gets too overwhelming. I do practice one day a week to live list-less and it’s amazing what all of a sudden I do remember. Not that is the real cure at this stage, but I feel free for one day to be list-less. Cheers!!! The red still tastes good.

  8. I wish there were a “love” button on wordpress as on facebook.

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