Write me a list


Isn’t it funny how co-incidences happen?

My desk is currently littered with lists of work I need on my new website, lists on how to structure everything, lists of experts who could help me build it, lists of costs and tasks and objectives and ambitions and business plans.* Scribbled lists of ideas for logos and lock ups** and lists of all the reading I’ve done on the subject of branding and websites, and the learning I’ve absorbed, and all the rest of it.***

Also lists and lists of art directors, agents, newspapers, magazines, online publications, publishers, galleries. Ambitious and exciting and sometimes overwhelming lists of possibilities.

With this as a rather intense back drop, I went out for lunch with Carolina. We had a great time, and on the way back to the bus stop, I popped into the charity bookshop to see if they had a book on dogs for a certain daughter, who would dearly like a dog, but is getting a book instead.

No books on dogs. A few promising novels though, and then my eyes lit upon a large book propped on the top shelf. ‘Lists of Note’ compiled by Shaun Usher. I reached it down and opened it up.

Ten (fifteen? twenty?) minutes later, I was still standing there, transfixed. ‘Lists of Note’ contains lists of all kinds written by humans across the ages. I was in no doubt – this was treasure. I bought it immediately, and have been keeping Mr Murray awake by reading it out at midnight, and giggling.

It’s full of such extraordinarily good lists. Sad, funny, poignant, incomprehensible, poetic, creative. The lists seem to suggest what it is to be a human abroad in the world and trying to make sense – or a go of it.

For example, I particularly like the 1939 list of possible name options for Rudolph the red nosed reindeer – he could have been Rollo, it seems (Robert May, List 50). Also highly interesting to me is the 1967 list of advice to the art students of Los Angeles’ Immaculate Heart College. E.g: ‘The only rule is work. If you work, it will lead to something.’ (YES, Art teacher Sister Mary Corita Kent, list 63, I agree).

And gosh, the 1776 list of, ahem, ‘Sporting ladies’ (and their various attributes) due to be attending Scotland’s Leith Races that year, is an eye opening read (List 49).

And the 11th century list from Japan of ‘Things now useless that recall a glorious past’ by Sei Shonagon made me smile – ‘A painter with poor eyesight’ (hello, reading glasses). (List 45).

In sum, it’s a wonderful book, and I can’t put it down. You can follow Lists of Note on Twitter if that’s your thing, but I recommend the actual book wholeheartedly.


*Someone asked me this week do I ‘run it as a business?’ (Thanks for that.) Well, yes, I do, relatively tiny as it is. I’ve done many things wrong and lots of things right along the way, but I have learnt one thing. You can’t scale chaos.

**Lock up – the words that succinctly describe your offering. My current favourite for my new logo is wonderful, I’m so excited by it.

***I’m sure actually making a new website will all turn out to be rather simple in the execution, especially as I now plan to pay someone cleverer to do it. But you don’t just discover penicillin by accident do you, the laborious work before the miracle moment is unfailingly immense.

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