Do you write lists? You know, shopping lists to lose; weekend jobs for your partner; who gets what – and at what price – at Christmas; in fact lists for everything.
And how about lists you’re given? School uniforms, rules and regulations for recycling (how can anyone remember these?). Maybe you are on a hospital list.
Over the past few years I’ve been on lists much more than ever. I have never actually seen these lists so I have no proof that they exist but, silly me, I find the words comforting.
Like action is being taken. I have been listened to, my name has been noted and, presumably, written down, passed on and acted upon.
But do these faceless people make lists of names just to practise their alphabetical competence?
Or do they, like squirrels, bury them, only to forget where they put them?
Now, why am I getting so excited about lists? Because, when travelling by train, it is very important to have my name on a list.
Arriving at the station help desk, the assistant always looks first at their list. I hold my breath until I hear the words “yes you are on my list”. I am on my way to lunch with friends.
Past experiences are forgotten as I chat and laugh, oblivious to the fact that my trouble-free journey home depends on this list.
With the train home announced, I hunt frantically for a porter (are they called that now?) carrying a ramp.
But yes, you’ve guessed it – there’s not one to be seen. So I press a button saying ‘Emergency’ and hear a voice booming out “which service do you want” but however much I see the absence of a ramp as an emergency, they cannot find it on their list.
But suddenly a knight in shining armour appears; no, not someone with a ramp or list but a member of the ordinary British public. Seeing a maiden in distress, they instinctively run downstairs to alert staff. Who, as if by magic, appear with a ramp and don’t even mention ‘lists’.
On another occasion, arriving at a station to find it unmanned, I ring a helpline and am told that as I was on their list, there must be someone there to help me and to look again.
To her the list IS proof; it IS the abracadabra, despite the fact it has been kept secret from those who need to know (interestingly, she accepted there wasn’t anyone around and ordered me a taxi...) I wonder if there is a limit to how many times you can be on ‘the list’. And do they put a star against your name if you complain?
After all, it must set the train companies back quite a bit as every complaint elicits a posted £10 Marks & Spencer voucher.