Listing 

Like many people, I love a good list. If I have a load of things to get done, half of which are things that I could replace with an infinite number of items that I would rather be doing, then the first thing I do is to write them down vertically on a clean piece of paper and hope that will help to focus my attention long enough to get at least one of the things completed. If the list is truly foul and comprises entire chores, then before the list can be created, I will need some new stationery. Some pens with smooth flowing nibs and paper that is thick to the touch, which means business – or even better, which has grids instead of lines.

Some lists, of course are more pleasant than others. Every year, at around two minutes to Christmas, my husband asks me for a list of things I want, which would have the rather unnerving effect of making me feel like a spoilt princess except for what he does with it.

Being from the Emerald Isle, he has a decidedly Irish approach to the Xmas list. There are some things he will agree that I do want (these are mainly DVDs and books as he has no hope of keeping up with what I have and have not seen or read during the year), these I will get as requested. Then there are the items that are not bad choices, but actually I could do a little bit better with just a little intervention – this is him building on the list. Then there is the other group, the things he absolutely won’t agree with, which will be struck off, causing him to find substitutes which he feels are a better idea. This is called going “off list”.  After years of careful list cultivation and management, we have reached a tacit agreement, where I will mark certain items with NOT OFF LIST, and add a few items that I do not want and know he will hate, so he can get creative and nobody gets hurt.

He never writes me a list and that is why he has been getting underwear for Xmas for the last twenty years.

One of the shortest lists I ever wrote was with a sharpie on the back of an envelope. I stuck it on the fridge door one day and there it remained for two years until I completed it. It read: Sell Car, Buy Car, Get Promotion, Buy House. I finally competed it in 2014 when I bought my new car. I hate buying cars so that last one took me a while.

This week, unusual though it has been, has been pretty listful. I had a list of items to take to hospital with me, in case I was made to stay overnight. While confined to the couch, I managed to get a plumber in to fix two leaking toilets and a dripping  hot water system, crossing three things in one hit off my maintenance list. Then once I was able to drive again I managed to get both an eye test and a haircut (I tend to get things on my body done in lists as well).

The last list I have drawn up this week was the items to take away with us next week when we go up the coast for a break. We have rented a place, which has a large garden the dogs will love, and I have a series of boxes drawn on an A4 sheet of paper, each with a heading like: Linen, Food and Booze, Toys (includes electronic gear) etc etc. I don’t actually need this list as we have done this trip a few times before and I know what we will take, but drawing the list up is a way to start the holiday and it gives me something I can hand to my husband as I issue instructions from the couch.

This morning I had a follow up appointment with the surgeon who was poking around in my knee and snipping off pieces of redundant cartilage only a few days ago. As this was the first time I had seen him since the operation, I naturally had a number of questions and listed some prompts -What happened? Exercise? Pain? How much walking? – on the cover of the folder, marked KNEE, in which I was keeping all the medical information.

It did not go quite according to plan, ‘AHAH!’ He cried, ‘You had quite the reaction to the propofil, didn’t you?’

Yeah, well, not quite as bad as Michael Jackson’s, but I did come to shaking violently.

‘Now,’ he continued, sparing me the opportunity for a joke in poor taste, ‘Here are the pictures.’

One by one, he took me through the pictures he had taken, including a spectacularly arthritic knee.

‘Not much we can do about that, I am afraid,’ he added, then seizing my folder he zoomed down my list.

‘Exercise’, he said – use your common sense

‘Yeah but what is common sense to you,’ I pointed out, ‘may not be obvious to me, given my whole lack of orthopedic training.’

‘Nine months!’ he declared, ‘you are looking at nine months before total recovery.’

Whoa – NINE MONTHS? You can grow a whole baby in nine months, I just had some cartilage snipped – like my knee getting its nails cut.

‘And don’t go walking those dogs for a month – but live your life’

He had been scribbling as he talked all over my list with his comments. He had reached the bottom.

‘Can I swim?’ I asked’, ‘Just bobbing about, you know in lovely salty water.’

“Hmmmm. Not till Monday – and put some waterproof dressings on. I didn’t stitch you up, you know!’

So I have been walking around with holes in my knee. It began to ache a bit.

‘Rest up!’ He declared, ‘And I will see you again in three months.’

I took the prescription he had provided and limped to the car to go home.

It has indeed been a very listy week, and by the sound of it, I will be listing for a good while to come.

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