My life is governed by lists. I would be unable to function without them, because they’re essentially just a bit of my brain. I’ll steadily potter my way through tedious tasks on my work list, before coming home to tick off stuff from my home list. And if I fail to complete my day’s list, there’s a nagging sense of disappointment. Not great depression you understand, but just a nagging irritation that’s akin to receiving an especially beggarly Fab ice lolly.
Lists are a window on what’s going on in someone’s head and the means by which they process it. My lists, for example, have self-drawn tick boxes, immediately picking me out as a craven sad who requires a constant sense of minor achievement to keep him cheerful.
So finding a stranger’s list is always a little bit exciting, and an excellent opportunity for letting one’s Sherlock Holmes fantasies loose. Supermarket trolleys are usually a fine hunting ground. What can you make of the list below?
I think we can take five things from this. Firstly, this list has been made by a woman. Why? Well, that’s easy enough – I suspect a man would only think to buy hair lacquer if he’d just built a chest of drawers from a pile of old wigs. Secondly, this is a reasonably well educated person. Spelling is pretty sound, handwriting mostly legible. Thirdly, this person is a baker. No ready meals here, and I can’t say that pectin or Stork ever appears on my shopping lists. However, it’s not possible to be certain that this lady is from an older generation from just that. The killer fact there is the presence of ‘liver sausage‘, a product that is found in a section of the supermarket that only over 55s can see. And finally, the presence of the mysterious ingredients ‘mence’ and ‘sclam’, clearly says to me that they dabble in the occult, and are therefore very likely to be some sort of wizard.
So just from a short shopping list, I can say with near certainty that this is the owner:
That’s why hair lacquer and hair spray are written in a different colour pen – Meg knew she would need them in the future and wrote them down in advance. As for the inclusion of ‘mince pies’, well, I can only be impressed at someone who can predict the inevitable Christmas rush more than two months in advance.
It’s a gift she has, it really is.