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.......