I DON’T know whether they teach this in journalism school – I am entirely self-taught (also known as untrained ) – but it is a truth commonly recognised among hacks that when columnists have nothing to say, they fall back on three tactics.
They either: refer to a letter (generally made up) from a reader complaining about something; they look on Google to see if it is National Something Day and if it isn’t they make one of those up (or invent a survey that found it should be); or, they produce a List. While being in the fortunate position of having some real missives of displeasure to choose from (dog poo not being cleared up, Manston not being reopened, street lamps not being turned on so that at two in the morning one stumbles into the dog poo) and perfectly ready to defend the need for a ‘Stop Talking About How You’ve Finished* Your Christmas Day Shopping Before I Scream’ Day and find three people to agree with me, the one I favour most is the creation of ten ways / facts / things you never knew. This is because we are a nation of list-lovers: something I learned from the Times Newspaper who recently devoted an entire magazine to the subject in the wake of BuzzFeed – a website crammed with lists – being valued at 850 million dollars. That’s a lot of paper and pens. Which is what a proper list is all about. While I’ve done the topical cataloguing myself – 20 Strategies for Surviving Yuletide; Fifteen Things to Remember at Easter; Eleven-and-a-half Handy Time-Saving-Tips for all; Thanet councillors I could imagine being married to without slitting my wrists (that was a short one) – and have written an entire book with 100 Ways in its title (my esteemed colleague, Mike-Bah-Humbug-Pearce, keeps his own list of how many times I mention this), my favourite sort is the one you write by hand and do a lot of ticking off on. Namely: the To Do List. Because I seriously do not know how people without one manage. Therefore, in the absence of National Make a List Day – where’s an anniversary when you need one? – I give you Ten Top Reasons why writing it all down is a joy:
- There is something endlessly seductive about a blank sheet of paper and a new pen. (I like those green fibre-tip italic ones, if Berol could come up trumps on a product placement deal.)
- It maintains the illusion that you’re almost, in some semblance of, control.
- The warm feeling of smugness you get from crossing a task off when completed.
- The chance to add things you’ve already done, just for the above.
- Because one’s memory isn’t what it used to be and if it’s not written down it won’t happen. ( A state of affairs that started with pregnancy and that was decades ago.)
- You’d deprive your spouse of scrawling “make another list” at the bottom, and after 25 years, still thinking it’s funny.
- Because you’d forget someone’s Christmas present if you didn’t.
- And 90 per cent of the birthdays.
- Because if you shop without one you get home with a till receipt for £106.72 but not the tube of tomato puree you went out for.
- While you’re writing it down, you don’t actually have to do it…
* No, since you ask, I haven’t.
Out now! 100 Ways to Fight the Flab – and still have wine and chocolate. On kindle, e formats and in paperback.
Read the original article at: http://www.thanetgazette.co.uk/Plain-Jane-Make-list/story-25699040-detail/story.html#ixzz3LnidRJQV.