Thursday, 17 December 2009

Two Short Lists of Not Much.....

2 Things I Have Not Been Doing:
It is very cold indeed. I have not written anything here for a while but am not hibernating.

8 Things I Have Been Doing
I have been running about trying to buy presents with appropriate care and attention but without having to go to a shopping centre on the Saturday before Christmas. I have written about my Christmas preparations before, and this December is proceeding pretty much as expected, although this year I have been making vast quantities of mincemeat.

I have also been telling everyone how excellent leg-warmers are. I have excellent thick, dark red wool leg-warmers. They are MARVELLOUS and I love them. I have also been showing them to people, enthusiastically pulling up my trouser leg and waving a woolly ankle in the air - "Look! Aren't they great! I'm so warm!!". This is not always appropriate.

I have been wondering how much it might snow tonight. If you have a snow day tomorrow I have ideas of what you can do with it here.

I have been listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas.

I have been amused by Christmas perfume adverts.

I have been stalking sydthecat, trying to take a photo of him with a Father Christmas hat hovering above his head. With limited success.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

(Some) Books of the Year (2002 mostly, it seems)

And so we come to the end of 2009, and also to the end of the decade we (rightly) hesitated to call the noughties.

I wasn't really prepared for the end-of-the-decade thing this time, as the last one was also the end of a century and of the millenium and so was heralded with nostalgia, smugness and predictions of technological meltdown and apocalyptic doom.

I do not have my ear to the ground or my finger on the pulse or my anything else on the whatever of the zeitgeist, so cannot give a definitive top [insert number, preferably multiple of 5 or 10] [insert cultural experience of choice] of 2009.

I can, however, exclusively reveal the list you have all been waiting for (subconsciously, probably, but waiting nonetheless):

5 Good Books I Have Read This Year.

Exciting stuff.

In no particular order then:

1. The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future by Jenny Uglow.
This is really, really good, and there is plenty (500+) pages of it (and with pictures). A group biography of members of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, which includes Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles, polymath), Josiah Wedgewood, Joseph Priestly and James Watt.

2. Samuel Pepys, the Unequalled Self by Claire Tomalin
This was Whitbread Book of the Year 2002 (see?) and is marvellous.

3. Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Neurological case studies of music and the mind. Very interesting indeed.

4. The Golden Age of Couture, Paris and London 1949-57 ed Claire Wilcox
Absolutely gorgeous big dresses. Beautifully cut tweed suits. Yum.

5. The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland
All of Douglas Coupland's books are good, but some are too sad for me to read. This one is quite sad, and is also very funny.

These are not all the books I have read. They may not be the top 5 - I'm not sure. I also read Sputnik Sweetheart and After Dark by Haruki Murakami as well as Norwegian Wood, and I read (sections of) lots of Political Philosophy books for work. I note that mostly I have been reading non-fiction and this is interesting. I shall go on as I started, as I have just launched into Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy.

So there you are. Furnish your Christmas list with listingslightly. Coming up, some music released sometime which I have listened to somewhere at some point, collated for your enjoyment.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

It's the thought [of spending $2640 on partridges and pear trees] that counts

The Christmas CD is playing in Starbucks today and the festive season is upon us. This takes over from their rather pleasing late 70s/early 80s compilation, so rather than being haunted by Squeeze I now find myself humming Dean Martin songs in the afternoon. Or, less pleasingly, Jingle Bell Rock*, which I CANNOT STAND. (In fact Christmas songs that have me fleeing shops or leaping for the skip button make a long list in themselves, so it is just as well I decided long since to stick to non-grumpy lists....).

This year, inspired by spotify playlists last year, we will be filling up on mince pies and sherry to the sounds of Nat King Cole, the Snoopy Christmas CD and James Brown's Funky Christmas. Oh yes.

The best Christmas song is, of course, The 12 Days of Christmas, being a long list of improbable gifts. Apparently it is not, as some had suggested, some kind of Catholic code during years of repression, and the goo-OOOld riiiings are in fact pheasants. From Monday you can check the cost of this extravagent list on the Christmas Price Index, but if you can't wait (or for an examination of the effects of recession on the cost of turtle doves) you could check last year's .

*Although wikipedia lists 56 artists who have recorded this, so it is yet possible that one of these versions will be at least tolerable. The Fall, for example, may have saved this for me, just.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A Decorative Interlude

Thank you to people who have said nice things and identified themselves as actual listingslightly readers. Some of you are not even relations. I find this heartening.

It is a shame that, having readers, there is not more reading material. Some ideas are simmering. In the meantime, I shall pretend this is a craft blog and demonstrate how to make a festive dove decoration.

white card
white paper
scalpel and cutting mat (not essential, but does make it a bit easier)

1. Draw a dove shape on white card and cut it out (this one is about 10cm long).

2. Cut out some strips of white paper (these are 10cm wide) and fold them in a concertina kind of a way about every centimetre.

3. Chop into the concertina-ed paper symmetrically so that when it is unfolded it makes a pattern.

4. Cut a letterbox-shaped hole in the dove card, which is big enough (but only just) to push the folded concertina-paper-wings through.

5. Fan out wings and attach in the middle with glue. Voila!

The first set of these I made was in about 1985 (with added glitter), following instructions from, I think, Blue Peter, so thank you to them, and also to my parents for wielding the scissors....

Sunday, 8 November 2009

An Awesome Blog

That there are entire blogs which consist of one ever-expanding list is something that fills me with joy.

1000 Awesome Things is a marvellous list-blog and includes thoughts on the joys of socks, snow days, and cereal, as well as making space to acknowledge the particular pleasures of the smell of an old hardware store or the feeling of getting into a bed with clean sheets after shaving your legs.

Another blog to bookmark and read all of, I would suggest.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Isn't it good

Finally I have read Norwegian Wood. I have read lots of other books by Haruki Murakami, and bought this rather special edition years ago, but was scared to read it. For lots of reasons I think - partly that the edition was a bit too special to actually read, partly that it's good to know that you haven't yet read all the books by an author you love, and partly that I thought it would be very good and make me sad.

I borrowed it from the library. It is very good and it did make me a bit sad, but I'm glad I read it, although now I don't want to read anything else for a while.

Interestingly, it's being made into a film at the moment. I shall keep my fingers crossed.

In the meantime, here is a list from the Times about Haruki Murakami.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

You say coin and I say forint (and score 39 points)

I like to play Scrabble. I also like to win games sometimes. These things are not compatible chez-listingslightly.
Exhibit A:

Not the world's most elaborate game - note the four-letter words at the bottom of the board (no, not that kind of four letter word, that is quite a different version of scrabble) - stem, sing, avid etc. So far, so dull. But there, look!

A 7 letter word. On a triple word score. That's 89 points right there for Mr Listingslightly. I'm not entirely sure why I took this photo at all, except it was a newish camera and it was a day when it snowed I think.

Still, things are looking up as today the Guardian published a list of 10 words that were on the finals board at the National Scrabble Championship. If only I can remember how to spell them...

Monday, 12 October 2009

The cat that liked to be beside the seaside

There are many books of lists, but the best ever, I think, are those by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace.

The 70s originals are full of amazing stories and intriguing facts, as well as weird insights into the time of writing For example, the joint third* most hated person in history 1975, according to visitors to Madame Tussaud's, was Richard M.Nixon, down from the top spot in '73. (Interestingly, although his hatedness peaked after Watergate, even in 1970 he was fourth...)

The 2005 version is just as good and includes "5 Body Parts Named After Italians", "33 Names of Things You Never Knew Had Names" and, marvellously, "The Cat Came Back: 9 Cats Who Travelled Long Distances to Return Home", which is the list I read when I can't sleep and need to think of nice things.

This is a truly cheery list, of cats that travelled up to 1500 miles to rejoin their owners who had moved, or to go back to where they used to live. My favourite is Gringo the cat who left his family in Paris and travelled 480 miles to the French Riviera in December 1982. “Wishing to escape the cold winter, he had made the journey south in a week and appeared at their summer home, where neighbours took care of him.” A cat that escapes winter to make for the coast is my kind of cat.

So there you have it – worth buying for the cat stories alone. It’s £5.99 on Amazon, so less than 67p per amazing cat journey story.

*with Dracula

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Additional notes

A recent ‘blog of note’ flagged by blogger is the excellent site Letters of Note, which is just marvellous and I recommend that you click here immediately and read everything on it (not as time-consuming as you might think as it’s been going for a month, although it’s certainly updated much more often than listingslightly...). Scanned copies and transcripts of interesting letters, memos etc, recent and not so, make for exactly the kind of blog I like to wander about in.
On Friday night I watched North by Northwest, which I feel I have seen many times, but in fact I think I’ve seen the whole thing about twice, and bits of it many times. Regular readers (hello, both) will know of my love for Cary Grant, and this is him at his classy best, being pursued and drawn into dark dealings in a fabulous suit (and note how gorgeous his shirt is also), and with the very lovely Eva Marie Saint.
I’ve been rummaging about in some shoe boxes and turning up various interesting bits of paper that have accumulated over the last 12 years or so. In June 1999 I was finishing my second year at university. I’m sure that there were all sorts of exciting things happening with the internet, but I was mostly unaware of them. In those days when interesting snippets of information seemed a bit more special, a bit harder to track down, but when we were just starting to realise the possibilities of email, a lovely friend sent me a list of all Alfred Hitchcock’s cameo appearances. I was interested enough to forward it from my university email to my home email, and then, a month later, to print it off to save, and have been moving it around with me ever since (9 house moves in 10 years). Now, of course, Wikipedia does the work for you. But this is a marvellous site, which not only lists the cameos, but also has fantastic stills with Sir Alfred highlighted.

Monday, 5 October 2009

And while you're at it, where's my cambric shirt eh?

Being a list of herbs which have so far survived in our front yard.

Purple Basil

I'm particularly impressed with tarragon, which I hadn't knowingly eaten before a few weeks ago when we made this excellent recipe, with chicken though, not guinea fowl so far.

They are mostly thriving (or at least surviving), but we shall see how the rain and cold affect them. And at least the caterpillars haven't eaten them yet - they're too busy demolishing the broccoli which we have planted in unwisely small containers. Fortunately we live near some shops.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Fantasy Football

(Possibly the main fantasy aspect of this game for me being the belief that I will remember to update my team...)

Last year the performance of my fantasy football team was pretty mediocre. It was all going averagely until I stopped paying attention for a few weeks, forgot to substitute injured players and plummeted in the mini-league.

However, with renewed enthusiasm I have chosen my new team, and a strip that involves red and pink stripes. The listingslightly fantasy football team 2009-10 starts the season as:


And have been chosen by the following criteria:
1. Is their name pleasing to say and/or write?
2. Did they perform excellently in my team last year?
3. Do they collectively come from a range of teams, thus improving my chances of actually scoring some points?
4. Are they any good? (I am not entirely silly) And are they likely to play every match?

Will I remember to change the team when necessary? Will I regret the garish socks? Will I score at least enough points that it's not embarassing? And will I start wearing a large overcoat, pacing around the room and shouting at the TV during Match of the Day? Hmmm....

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Things I have been doing instead of packing all our possessions into boxes (again)

1. Writing a long and involved letter to the Inland Revenue explaining the last two years of my tax-paying life. Not in a dodgy way, just overlapping part-time jobs tend to make things a bit complex. So complex that only avoiding packing has encouraged me to sort it out. Maybe they will send me a big(ish) cheque of the sort that has so far eluded me.

2. Looking at things and wondering how to pack them.

3. Buying vintage fabric from ebay to make things for the new flat.

4. Worrying about boxes.

5. Wondering how it is possible to have so many books.

6. Buying books. Yes, really. This will no doubt induce hilarity in anyone who has seen our bookshelves and despair in anyone who will have a hand in moving them.

In other news, I have found out that there is a china cat attached to the wall of a building in the Steine in Brighton, and I have now seen it. This is brilliant because it has been there all along without me spotting it and now it makes me happy every time I go past.

Friday, 3 April 2009

I have seen lemurs and am very happy

A red ruffed lemur who has just woken up from a snooze.
Photo by Mr listingslightly, Wednesday 1st April, Bristol Zoo.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons"

I love coffee. I love it even though it is probably very bad for me and I drink too much of it and sometimes it makes me a bit jumpy and sometimes I forget to drink water during the day and drink lots of coffee instead and sometimes I forget not to drink it too late on in the day and it keeps me awake and sometimes I remember and drink decaff which is odd stuff but is still coffee and I love coffee.

Here is a list by Benjamin Obler on the Guardian website about fictional coffee scenes.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Who lives in a neo-Gothic, windswept, haunted, crumbling mansion like this.....

Time for a new poll. If you could live in any fictional house, where would you live?

I would like to live in the Moominhouse. Oddly, there is a real life version of this in Moominland, which really exists, in Finland. Instructions on how to make one out of gingerbread are here. Yum. The four-houses-in-one where the Beatles live in 'Help!' is pretty cool also.

Mr listingslightly would like to live next door to Barney Rubble, who he thinks is the best neighbour ever.

I'm not sure about sydthecat, but I suspect he'd like something like this. Or possibly this.

I suppose something to consider is whether the original inhabitants would be there or not. The Moominhouse would be much more fun if I could live with the Moomins, but I'd contemplate the Ewok village if they weren't there....

If you are interested in fictional property speculation, you can find a list (ha!) of the most expensive fictional houses here.

Vote now, or leave alternative suggestions in the comment box. They can be novel, film or TV houses. One film-knowledgeable friend would like to live in the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse from the 1960 film, for example.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Infrequently Asked Questions

In which I update my reader(s) and herald the dawn of a new era, or, at least, of Spring.

1. Would you like a coffee?
Why yes, thank you! But wait...... is it the afternoon? And I'm not out this evening? Then tea please.

2. Where are you and what have you been up to?

3. What is the best way to stay cheerful in the winter months?
Plan A: Get hold of the biggest, fluffiest duvet possible, wrap yourself in it and wait for spring. Administer coffee at regular intervals. Dine on sausage and mash. Persuade a cat to sleep on your feet. Read.
Disclaimer - You may find this interferes unduly with your work and relationships. In which case:
Plan B: See the lemurs and marvel. Consider owls. Dine on sausage and mash. Read.

4. Aren't you a little bit obsessed with lemurs?

5. Are you also obsessed with hibernation?
Yes. There will now be a ban on discussing this matter until Winter.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Raindrops keep falling on my head, messing up my travel plans, getting in my shoes and generally being annoying.

Look at me, but a few days ago, full of optimism! What a fool I was... no sooner do I suggest that the worst may be over, that February has redeeming features and that hibernation is not the only sensible option, than this happens - biblical-style lashings of rain, that's what. I have been thwarted in my attempts to reach the class I should have been teaching tonight due to rail and road links being severed, and without waterproof trousers too.

If this continues I shall, as usual, contemplate building an ark to save myself, Mr Listingslightly and sydthecat, as well as any other creatures we pass by (lemurs or goats preferably, and in pairs if possible). However, I have also considered the fact that sydthecat may secretly be a Turkish swimming cat, as I have always hoped. He does look rather like he might be, as you can see by comparing these pictures with this one.

I met his mothercat, and she didn't look much like a swimming cat, but I like to think that his fathercat swam to Brighton from distant shores.

Intriguingly, there is a story linking Noah (of ark fame) and swimming cats here.

Hmmm.... I see I have not managed to contrive a list into this post, although there are interesting facts and links to pictures of swimming cats as consolation. I have been working on a cat-based theory, though, and will soon share it.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

So Long, Miss Havisham....

There's a great collection of lists at McSweeney's. This is the most recent one (Fortune Cookie Messages Appropriate for Dickens Characters), and what reminded me to post the link.

Right, the sun is shining and there are things to do - I need to stop listening to Leonard Cohen and go and read about the nature of time in the laundrette.

Friday, 6 February 2009

More grumbling about the cold

You may have gathered that I do not like January. It is cold, dark, and awash with "flu-like viruses" (i.e. "it's worse than a cold, it's not flu, your guess is as good as mine but I feel grim").

With the exception of some birthdays of lovely people, it's been a month best spent indoors, with a supply of DVDs, hearty food and a cat. Hibernation is also a good way to save £££, as noted previously, which is useful in the lean post-Christmas, post-early-pay-cheque wilderness of the end of a long month.

Still, February dawns, and although also cold, dark and pestilent, it at least has the decency to be short. And at the end of it: Spring (by my reckoning at least). My favourite fact (from this site) - "the Anglo-Saxons called February "Sol-monath" (cake-month) because cakes were offered to the gods during that month". Good plan. Cake-month it is then.

Meanwhile here are some notable February-themed events:

1. Candlemas - 2nd February
Notable for being the mid point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, so we are 1/4 way towards midsummer already...... that was supposed to be a good thing, but now I read this and feel looming guilt at my lack of resolution progress. Tsk.

2. Groundhog Day - 2nd February also
In which a small mammal predicts an early spring or six more weeks of winter. According to the 13 groundhogs listed on Wikipedia, only five predict an early spring this year. Pants.

3. Valentine's Day
On which more another time.

4. Pancake Day
Which as a secular celebration is extra fun. Whereas in the past (or a stricter present) people would eat up all the fatty stuff before giving it up for Lent, now people (well, me anyway) eat all the fatty stuff and think "I'd forgotten how great pancakes are - let's do this again next week..."

5. New clothes in the shops
Are there blue and white clothes in the shops? Are some of them stripy? Do you look at them and think "Classic French resort wear, to be accessorised with a red handbag and a background of yachts", or even "Hmmm, perhaps it's time to stop wearing a duvet"? Then soon it will be Spring.

Monday, 2 February 2009

"Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...."

....are quite annoying and also no-one pronounces it eyeLAshes.

It is snowing. It has been snowing for some time and there is a lot of snow out there. Here are some things to play with (indoors) until it thaws:

1. Make A Flake
You could do this with paper, but you'd need to find where you put it, and some scissors and tidy up afterwards. There's no glitter option with this online version though.

2. Make Another Flake and Watch It Twirl in 2 or 3D

3. Make a Snowball
If you have a well-stocked drinks cabinet. And if you like advocaat-based cocktails. And if you don't have anything going on later for which you need to be sober.

4. Dream of a White Christmas
Get out some tinsel, crack open the sherry (or advocaat-based cocktail) and settle down in front of an old film.

5. Rewrite the lyrics to "My favourite things"
Brown paper packages tied up with string - yes. Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes - no. Plus, I haven't been bitten by a dog or stung by a bee [grabs wooden table supersitiously], but remembering bright copper kettles would, I think, be unlikely to make it all better. Still, Maria the nun was much tougher than me, what with grouchy naval captains, 3 million children to look after and nazis to escape from. Lemurs, Alvin the Lobster, victoria sponge cake, Cary Grant - that's much more like it.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Lemurs are great

Since last week I have become mildly obsessed with lemurs. They are truly marvellous, and interestingly varied. I intend to visit some - not, sadly, in Madagascar, although actually that's probably just as well as that's where they live free and can probably do without me stalking them. I shall make a plan.

Here are places where you can learn more about them:

1. The Lemur Centre at Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)
Which has lots of information about lemurs, their habits and their relation to humans, as they are also primates.

2. National Geographic
As linked to previously. But here is a video about catching a wee mouse lemur in order to study it and then return it to its tree.

3. Lemur Health
A graduate research student studies lemurs in Madagascar. Good photos and pictures, including some good ones of mouse lemurs. She's going back to Madagascar this year to study bigger lemurs.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Two cheery thoughts for a cold, damp Sunday in January

In which I once again contemplate hibernation

Two Stephen-Fry-related gems

1. Immense gratitude to Stephen Fry for one of the most cheery moments of January - the mouse lemur, which he filmed as part of the 'Last Chance to See' series, is the best animal in the whole world. Here is part of his interview with Jonathan Ross on Friday - the mouse lemur bit is from 5.15. Its extreme cuteness may be one of the reasons for its being endangered - National Geographic says they are captured for pets - but may, I guess, also motivate people to prevent its extinction. The same may not be true of the very strange-looking aye-aye, despite its huge eyes. The 'Last Chance to See' BBC site has an amazing video of one finding its dinner in a tree.... Amazing wee creatures, both of them. Looking forward to the series.

2. Further cheers for Mr Fry also for the information, on this week's QI, that people in rural France used to sleep through the winter. This is just excellent. Previously my hibernating heroes were Moomins (who would fill up on pine needles before settling in for the long Finnish winter). This article ('Why Work When You Can Hibernate?') confirms the truth of this (French people, not moomins) and suggests tax incentives for hibernation.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Uncharted Apricots

In which I try to be good.

A new challenge in the listingslightly household: five fruit/veg per day. We even have a chart on the fridge to record progress. This week has not gone well for me.... it's cold and pesky outside and I want baked potatoes, cheese, cake, cheesecake even, and oatcakes. These do not count. Today though I exceeded myself by eating a dinner which included red pepper, onion, red cabbage, carrot, chickpeas, raisins, avocado and apple. It was nicer than it sounds, promise.

Sydthecat is not participating, although his personal challenge (unbeknownst to him) is to run about more and to this end we have been trying to encourage him to play with a crinkly paper ball, with limited success. Mostly he sits and looks at us throwing it backwards and forwards with an indulgent (and indolent) air, pouncing only if it lands pretty much on him. He is enjoying his portly middle age rather too much I fear.

The five fruit/veg thing is weird though - it becomes a bit odd trying to work out whether you've eaten enough of something for it to count as a portion. I've always been scared of people who size up your lunch as a calorie count - it must take the fun out of a sandwich when you can see a big fat number slapped on top of it - and I don't want to be eyeing up my salad wondering what size cereal bowl is the measure of it. Tsk. Still, I am pleased to discover that three dried apricots = one portion as I find them a bit suspicious. I'm not sure a chart with a barely acknowledged competitive edge is a good way to encourage me to like fruit, but still.... on my 300th birthday I may finally be grateful to satsumas.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

It's not just me....

Who doesn't like lists? Not you, presumably, dear reader, or you wouldn't be reading this. Unless you don't but are overcoming your natural antipathy because you like me. In which case thank you, crazy yet loyal friend (friend, not stalker, let us hope). Or unless you are here by accident, in which case welcome! do stay and have a read, unless you're in a rush, in which case click here for an emergency exit.

In no particular order here are some people who like lists in a music-themed way:

1. Book: Hang the DJ - An Alternative Book of Music Lists, edited by Angus Cargill
Marvellous - an unbirthday present which includes lists as good as The Walruses: The Ten Greatest Moustaches in Rock, Lilac Wine: The Ten Best Albums to Get Drunk Alone To, Deserving but Denied: Thirty-three No. 2s That Should Have Been No. 1 and Teenage Flicks, So Hard to Beat: Ten Songs from Eighties Teen Movies. Fantastic stuff - and by great writers like Laura Barton, Michael Faber and Simon Reynolds.

2. Another book: All Known Metal Bands by Dan Nelson
A book that is one big list. Surely not every known metal band you ask? But yes, apparently so, every one. That secret metal band you have at home doesn't count as it's not known. Except to you. And probably your neighbours.

3. Mark Ronson
Or, more accurately, Kaiser Chiefs, who asked him to make a list of his top 100 bands.

4. Wikipedia LOVES lists.
Here is one of electronic music genres. Who knew there were so many? No wonder record shops are so complicated. Rock / Pop / Dance / Jazz / World / Classical doesn't really begin to cover it.

There are more... I could probably post a link to someone else's music list every day for, well, ever, probably. But that's not my plan. Still, if you spot something good, do let me know (the comment box awaits your wisdom).

Wednesday, 14 January 2009


No walks yet.... hopefully Sunday.

The Forest of Dean has big cats as well as boars.

I sent myself this link in an email titled 'Premium Bond Doom'. The big cheque is looking less likely. Plan B needed....

January is a silly month - hope you're keeping warm and happy.


Thursday, 8 January 2009

Dear Darling

In which I have two trivial thoughts about the economic crisis and publish them here for all to see.

1. Unintended consequence of the VAT cut
a. More small change due to recalculation at till
b. Fuller piggy banks
c. £££ removed from circulation

2. Unintended consequence of new coins issued by Royal Mint
a. If you collect one of each you can see how they fit together (well, near to each other) to make a shield. Also they are shiny.
b. People collect them
c. £££ removed from circulation

Incisive economic analysis. All over the place probably, but not here at listingslightly.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


Mostly at the moment I resolve to be warmer. Fortunately I have leg warmers, thermal socks, long-sleeved t-shirts and the fluffiest dressing-gown in existence (which sadly I cannot wear to work).

I make resolutions all the time - after all, an over-optimistic assessment of my capacity for self-improvement, competence and maturity is for life, not just for January. Obviously, as always, I resolve to eat better, drink less, read more, panic less and generally behave more like my aspired-to self, but this year there is also a more measurable target.

Despite the non-completion of last year's task (of which more later) I have high hopes for this one, which started by accident.

I like castles - ideally semi-ruined ones, the kind with no roof, some walls you can clamber over and others with a fireplace 30ft up, but with at least one spriral staircase leading to the top of a crenellated tower. I like exploring them with a map and perhaps the odd artist's impression on a plastic-covered stand. I'm not that keen on audio guides.

I like working out which bits were built when, trying to remember names of architectural features and reading about seiges, battles and Victorian romanticisation. Most of all (when no-one's looking) I like to have fake sword fights in an Errol Flynn sort of a way.

Anyway, in a closing-down sale we bought a book called "Walking the Castles of Sussex". Perfect, we thought: walks, castles, marvellous. When we got home we realised that it is in fact one long 181 mile walk, broken into sections. This is no longer merely a book of walks taking in 20 castles. It is a challenge.

Completing these walks (within the year, not a weekend or anything crazy like that) will tick off several sub-resolutions in one go:
1. Visit more castles
2. Go on walks in the country
3. Spend time with people (at least some people with cars preferably, as the walks are linear)
4. Complete a list-based task

0 walks done
15 to go

To be continued.......