Saturday, December 24, 2005

257 - A Bigger Christmas

Most of the Christmas lists I've found so far are quite small. In a way they've been disappointing. I wanted something that showed the horrendous marks of capitalism - gorging on mounds of unwanted food and drink. But no, people seem to have been rather sensible on the amounts they've been buying.

So too is this shopper, but at least the list itself is a big one. I mean, it's truly littered with stuff. Clearly at a loss for presents (or perhaps part of a bid to shut the relatives up through inebriation), the shopper is buying "little bottle of Scotch. Bells." and "Bottle of hock nan." Presumably both these being so close together on the list, are for grandpa and nan respectively. In addition to these drinks, though, are some real classics - "Cavatt. Snowball drink" and "little bottle of Vodka" come further down. I don't know what Cavatt is...perhaps they mean advocaat - a key ingredient of a Snowball.

A selection of CDs has been specified, and due to the range of ones listed I'd guess that a few of them are intended as gifts. "Audio Bully's C.D.", "destinys Child CD GREATEST HITS", "Suger Babes CD" and "War of the world CD" not only reflect diverse musical tastes, but also that annoying trait of improper apostrophe usage.

Presents aside, there are a decent amount of food items as well. From a range of the expected including "Sasage meat", "Party nibbles", "Prawns" and "Parsnips" to the curious ("Red lasagna sauce") this shopper is truly preparing a feast.

Rock on, I say.

Friday, December 23, 2005

256 - Vital Cranberry Sauce

Part of me thinks that this is a shopper who is undertaking an emergency Christmas shop, especially as it was found on the 23rd December. We did our Christmas shop at just after midnight and found the store to be run amok with people, so only someone who wants to carry out an emergency shop would even consider going into the store during the day.

A lot of the items seem to be those last-minute Christmas feasties that make the day, hence my assumption. "Cranberry Sauce *" really stands out due to the asterisk, suggesting a certain extreme desire to be able to buy this particular item.

However, I don't really think that anyone would be buying "Veg", "Potatoes" or "X'mas Pud" as emergency items. Nor would someone be buying cheese and biscuits so late...although a certain dappiness is shown on the list through the separate listings of "Cheese Biscuits" and then, not until another 6 items later, "Cheese".

255 - Stinky House

O-ho, my word! "4 bleach", "4 Tins airfreshener", "80 black bags". This is, surely, the most smelly house in Britain!

Alice reckons this is the list of a cleaning contractor, but I personally reckon that a cleaning contractor would buy this kind of equipment from a wholesaler, rather than New Malden Tesco. Besides, what kind of a cleaning contractor needs "Hair dye"?

Okay, don't answer that.

Anyway, all these musing reflect my gut instinct: that this shopper simply lives in a horrendously stinky house. They may be preparing for the Christmas onslaught ("80 black bags" will be helpful for the reams of pointless wasted wrapping paper), but quite where the "2 Tins of polish" fit in is beyond me.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

254 - Dear Sanda

I let out an audible "awwww" when I recovered this torn up note from a shopping trolley this morning. The beginning of a letter to "Sanda", the young person who wrote this tore it up and threw it in a trolley to hide their spelling shame.

Now, while I am usually a stickler for people using corect spellign and grammer, I think we can afford to let this one go. I mean, I'm sure Santa wouldn't have been offended so neither should we.

253 - Jade's Magnetism

Argos is a curious place. Famed for its elite range of jewellery (Elizabeth Duke), the store operates not on item names but rather product numbers. There's also something sinisterly Soviet about the purchasing process in that you queue and pay for the item, before then queuing again to collect it from a teenage 'warehouse assistant' in a fluorescent shirt.

This list was, as you've probably realised by now, found in an Argos store. A little bit of internet research has pointed me towards item "353/0357" being a "Magentic Drawing Board". It looks like Magna Doodle, but cheaper.

Much as I mock, I wish I had one.

252 - More Gastroenteritis?

I know. Discussing the various states of the digestive system is not why most people visit the Compendium but, whether you like it or not, the content of the list is that way inclined.

Only a couple of lists ago we saw that a Christmas dinner also called for "Bum wipes". However, on this list, the shopper is clearly wishing to avert an intestinal overload through preparing thoroughly clean surfaces with "Tesco's Antibacterial Cleaner".

I'm personally quite thankful for the care they demonstrate. After all, a kitchen can hoard handfuls of different germs if not properly cared for. Fortunately, the Christmas disaster in this household has been averted through intelligent forward-planning. It's also good to see they're preparing for a mighty big turkey with their "Foil - long one Long one".

251 - What a Difference an 'S' Makes

Pluralisation is an important part of shopping, as it signifies whether more than one of a particular item is required. However, the pluralisation of an item that already appears as a single is just crazy. Check out the "sausages" on this list, swiftly followed by "Sausages" for a prime example.

But closer scrutinisation of the list suggests alternative explanations. Perhaps these are different kinds of sausages. While "sausages" are placed close to "Turkey", "Sausage" has a better acquaintance with "Bacon". For Christmas dinner we often porcupine the turkey with sausages on sticks, which explains the linking of the first two items.

Then again, the sausages are usually pigs in blankets - sausages wrapped in bacon. Perhaps this list isn't as easily explained as I thought.

250 - Christmas Dinner Induces Diarrhea

Something smells fishy. It may be that I've got my 'conspiracy theory' hat on again, but this shopper seems to be purposely setting out to give their Christmas dinner guests some severe intestinal problems.

According to the notepaper, "Revenge is a dish best served chilled". If, indeed, this is the aim of the shopper then presumably the aforementioned revenge is to inflicted through the "cream" or "cream soda". Eurgh.

But how do I know they are out to provide digestive difficulties? Simple - they're fully prepared with "Bum wipes". Then again, these might simply be in preparation for the blowback from the "sprouts"...

249 - Emergency Pringles

Emergency items, for those who are only just tuning in to the Compendium, are those which are added at the last minute to a list - usually signified by different handwriting or a different coloured pen.

In this example, "pringles" are added as an emergency item. One presumes that these are intended as a kind of 'snack' on Christmas Day, as the list features such festive favourites as "xmas log + cake" and "xmas pudding", but similarly they may simply be to bolster the junk-intake of "chips" and "biscuits".

Interestingly, the curiously shaped pad appears to be from Harrods. Check out the faint remnants of the logo at the bottom if you don't believe me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

248 - Ham 4 Boxing Day

Boxing Day, it seems, is a distinctly pointless British tradition. Indeed, even the Simpsons made reference to the ridiculousness of it in their Christmas broadcast last year. Stupid and pointless as it may be, though, I don't think it's any more crazy than Thanksgiving. I mean - an annual meal to remember when the Native Americans saved the Pilgrims' collective backsides from starvation. It sounds a great idea. How about the reservations? "But we do a big dinner, so why do you need your land back?" Compared to this, I think a holiday based loosely around St Stephen's Day is quite sane.

Anyway, I'm getting distracted from the list. The exciting thing about this shopper is how they're preparing for the further culinary onslaught of Boxing Day with "Ham". But it's not all too far advanced. Don't believe be? Check the "BRussels", set apart (as they should be) from other "Greens". THAT is Christmas food.

247 - The Week Before Christmas

In the lead up to Christmas we all begin to buy items for the big day that will last for more than a couple of days. As a result, this shopper's list is a fascinating combination of Christmas items ("Mince pies", "Sprouts" and "Sausage meat") and the everyday ("nappies?" and "Bold").

Being selective about some of the other items on the list, though, one might also construe that the shopper is creating a very memorable Christmas day - "condoms", "baby wipes" and rubber gloves".


246 - PROPER First Christmas List

Why do the gods conspire against me in such a way? After the false-start of Christmas lists previsouly, I have gone on to find my first REAL Christmas list. Wonderful! Apart from the fact it's written in pencil, and therefore nigh-on impossible to scan properly onto the Compendium.

I hope that, despite this, you can still share my excitement at seeing "BRUSSELS" and the curiously numbered "1001 ISLAND" sauce. There's a couple of interesting ones on here as well, especially "DOG".

I know for a fact that they don't sell pets in Tesco, but there is a pet superstore just up the road. Is this person seriously wanting to buy their canine friend from a shop?

245 - First Christmas List

Against my better instincts (I originally picked the list out of a trolley, promptly dropped it and a man walked over it) I kept hold of this list - footprint included - because I was desperate for my first Christmas list. And here it is, with a heading of "Christmas" and everything!

But everything is strange. "Roast Beef Salad" is not, in my book, a Christmas meal. However, when we see the other itmes ("Ham/Salami" and "King Prawns/Mayo") I think I can see what's going on.

Written in the cursive script of an older shopper, the items are not for Christmas dinner but rather Christmas tea. I'm guessing that this is mum/grandma who has been invited to lunch at her child's house, but is hosting tea at hers.

So, really, it's not my first real Christmas list at all. Darn it!

244 - Food vs. Drink

Arranged into two opposing columns, the food vs. drink list is a typical example of basic organisation. However, my rudimentary knowledge of science has picked up on the first two items on the list: "ICE" and "SALT" are, surely, absolute enemies of each other. So why buy them one after the other?

243 - A Table of (dis)Organisation

Wow, what a fantastic list! I'm a big fan of organisation, and an even bigger fan of pre-printed lists. While this is arranged into sections, it's not in the order that items are laid on in the shop...but I think we can excuse that little mistake.

Comparing the tickets items to the unticked is an interesting exercise. While there are a significant number of "junk food" items mentioned on the list, very few of them are actually ticked for purchase.

What I find particularly amusing, though, is the way in which the pre-prepared list has failed this shopper. Around the edges are written a variety of emergency items, very clearly being for Christmas ("wrapping paper", "chipolatas", "snacks" and "nibbles" - although I don't know the difference the between these last two).

Curiously, some of the emergency items ARE pre-printed in boxes ("White Wine" has even been ticked, but "Orange juice" hasn't).

All-in-all this is the tabulated list of a shopper who outwardly projects an image of calm organisation, but beneath the facade is just as frantically messy as you or I.

242 - Desperate for Youth

This list is rather sad. While regular items ("BACON", "MiLK" and "BREAD") make up the centre of the list, it's the peripherals that are most interesting.

The urgency with which "WATER FILTERS!" is scrawled at the head of the list indicates absolute neccessity. So, really, we need to think about why people use water filters. The Healthy House Ltd says that "Clean water is essential for healthy living", before goign on at quite boring length about how many times water has been recycled before we drink it. From this evidence, therefore, we can work out that the shopper is a keen health fanatic (as long as we choose to ignore the "BACON", "KETCHUP" and "PIZZAS" on the list!)

Secondly, there are the items at the lower-right of the list. Vanity items including "Revlon Age Defying All Day Lifting Foundation" and "No 7 Uplifting Foundation" scream to me the title of this list. I am convinced that this list belongs to someone desperately holding on to what youth they have, in a bid to beat the aging process.

Now, I realised yesterday that as well as having a receding hairline I'm also getting considerably thinner on top...but I don't think there's any creams that can help me appear something I'm not!

241 - Fruitilicious

Okay, so it's not all fruit. In fact it's predemoninantly vegetables and salad items - but I think you get the idea. Finally someone to add to the collection with a healthy eating conscience. Not that others don't have one, mind, but they're few and far between - especially in this season of excess.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Weird Web Award

So, the Compendium has been recognised by AlterVistas as "a web site of outstanding oddness". Excellent!

Monday, December 19, 2005

240 - Whose Juice

This list was stuck, tempting me, to the glass window of a trolley park in Tesco's. Since the Sun article, I've been finding lists at my local Tesco in considerably shorter supply than normal, but I wonder whether this is as a result of the article itself or merely the change in weather. I would have thought that more lists would be appearing as we near Christmas, and I'm still desperate to get my hands on one with "brussel sprouts", but until then I'll have to be content with lists such as this.

It's the "Juice" that intrigues me. Is this "Tom's Juice" (in which case there's an inaccurate apostrophe), or "Tom(ato(e))s Juice", in which case I think there's an amount of erratic pluralisation taking place. Either way, the shopper knows what they want - and what they don't. Evidently the "Baguette" is French enough for this shopper. "Croissants" have been crossed off.

239 - Aisle by Aisle

Two aisle geniuses (genii?) in a row. Amazing.

Starting at the door end by the toilettries, this shopper has listed their items in such a way as to be able to parade up and down the aisles at ease. While I praise such organisation, I can't help but query getting "potatoes" in the middle of a shop. This is sticking to the layout of the shop too closely, in my opinion, as I strongly believe in buying fruit and veg either at the start or the end of a shop.

It would confuse me any other way.

238 - Juice, not Bread

Quite how it's possible to mistake "Juice" for "Bread" is beyond me. One is firm and made of flour, the other is squeezed from fruit. But this shopper did decide to scribble "Bread" off their list and replace it with "Juice", only to add "Bread" onto the list further down.

However, perhaps the truth is that this shopper is cunning. "Juice", "cheese" and "milk" live close to each other in the supermarket, whereas "Bread" is nearest to "sandwich filler" and "Eggs". Just like on the list! This may well be the work of an aisle genius.

230 - Napkin Shopping

Writing on napkins seems to be something that lots of us do, but rarely are these scribbles of any practical use other than to pass the time while waiting for our dinner to arrive. This shopper used that time wisely, though, jotting down items they needed from the supermarket.

I'm worried by the "*Money*" though, as perhaps this shopper has gone into a restaurant without enough cash to pay for their food.

Then again, perhaps they weren't actually in a restaurant while they wrote this...

236 - International Pooh

Pooh Bear paper, and written in an unknown language. I'm at a loss with these - "laks", "shasonercette", "Basilikum". Something about it sounds German, if not even further Eastern Europe, but that's just a guess. Any help gratefully received!

Christmas break means more time for lists!

Although only 2 weeks, I'm hopign that my Christmas break will give me a chance to catch up on some of my listing. I've got loads of work to be getting on with over the break, but I'm always desperate to get the collection back up to date after a hectic term of teaching.

I'm also hopign ot lay my hands on a stereotypically festive list - something with "Turkey" and "brussel sprouts" would be fantastic.

Oh, and you'll have to bear with me while I get to grips with my new scanner. The old one gave up.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

235 - More from Sri Lanka, Perhaps?

It's been a while since I found a list written in a foreign script, but one at last makes an appearance. The only thing I think I can make out is "Lenor", but I'm not even sure about that. Let's hope that my trusty listophilist contributors can put me out of my linguistic shame and help with the translation!

234 - Smoking Babies

It's been a bumper trip for parenting lists, and I'm afraid this is another list that I'm going to criticise.

This is another parent who clearly cares for their baby (they've splashed out extra to buy "pampers sensitive" rather than the, presumably, non-sensitive type). They're even opting for "baby wipes (Johnsons)" rather than own brand. But they also buy "toothpaste (smokers)", suggesting a baby being raised in a place where they will be a passive smoker. I hope this isn't the case, but I do get a knot in my stomach when I think about some of the children that emerge through these lists.

233 - Toothrot and Calpol

I wouldn't claim to be an expert in the raising of children (although I certainly have my own ideas...) but this list is just asking for trouble.

It's a kind-of contradiction in terms.

The shopper lists "choco", "cake", "orange drinks", "sugar", and even a "coke bottle small". That's surely getting on for the gross regional output of Norfolk's sugar beet crop, which can't be great for one's teeth.

The contradiction comes in with "calpol" - a medicine that is a paracetamol suspension, especially created to ease the pain of teething in children. The parent evidently cares about their child's teeth, so why all the sugar?

Nice of them to include a "car toy", though. At least the little 'un will be happy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Meet the ana-LIST

Well, this is rather cool.

In August I was interviewed by Caroline Iggulden at The Sun about the Compendium, but the piece was never published. Now, after 4 months of sitting on file, the article has made it to print - although I've since become a year older, and changed my hair style!

Still, it's fun to see that an afternoon of chatting about lists and pulling funny faces for the camera paid off and that a new group of listophilists has begun to visit the Compendium and share their thoughts on the collection. Welcome, Sun readers!

Monday, December 05, 2005

232 - The Line Between Good and Bad

What a list of beautiful construction. Not only individually numbered, the items are split into two groups. The shopper refers to one as "Other", but I'd be inclined to view it as their way of dividing the food they approve of from that they don't. I could compare like-for-like numbers to support my suggestion: 3 could be either "Lemon Juice for cooking" or "Drinks 2 Value" (presumably value cola and lemonade). 4 is "Frozen Vegs" or "Value Crisps". See what I mean?

Perhaps the scorning of "Kitkat" is a woman's way to undermind her husband's shopping urges. The instruction "fruits and vegs wait until I see the market" is clearly a female directing her husband. It's interesting, therefore, that we see "Potatos" have made an appearance. Are they not "vegs"?

The reverse of the list is clearly an employee's record of the hours they have worked at Linwood, which a quick Google has revealed is a private care home in Thames Ditton. Apparently it specialises in dementia, the elderly, older age (both of which, I'm sure are basically the same thing and also a little vague), and physical disability. Then again, it doesn't take a genius to work out that this is a care home: the first column is headed "Carer".

231 - Chocolate Cake

I adore chocolate cake. Alice makes two superb ones. One is a straight chocolate sponge, but the other is a triple chocolate cake with dates and walnuts.

It strikes me that this list is a shopping list for specific chocolate cake ingredients ("Caster Sug", "eggs", "dark choc. 175g min 70%"). That chocolate sounds awesome. 70% cocoa fats? Mmmmm.

I'm not sure about adding "sour cream" to a chocolate cake though. It's sugar all the way for me.

Hello/Bonjour Canadians!

I always get excited when people decide to link to the Compendium. I get even more excited when the site is not UK based (although it's cool when Brits link to the site), but today topped the lot - the Compendium is the Site of Day on MSN Canada!

So, in honour of the new visitors who may pop by as a result of the link (hello! feel free to add your own cross-Atlantic comments to my collection!), it's time to again dust off the scanner and add some new lists...

Friday, December 02, 2005

230 - My Kinda Party

Oh yes. "Pink wafers" and "bendy straws". This, for those of you who missed the magic of birthday parties in the 1980s, is where it was at.

You'd turn up at someone's birthday party to find a long line of trestle tables covered in cheap crumpled paper. In the middle would be selections of sandwiches (meat paste and Dairylea, but not usually mixed) and plates full of pink wafers. Your drink would be cheap lemonade, drunk for a limp plastic cup through a striped bendy straw.

I'm guessing it must be a very Brit-specific thing, pink wafers and bendy straws, if the confused comment on this post is anything to go by, so I guess I should elaborate:

  • Pink wafers are...well...wafers that are pink, and sandwiched together with a vanilla flavour cream.
  • Pass the parcel is apparently of Nigerian origin, and is a children's party game where you pass a multi-layered wrapped parcel in a circle, and remove a layer at a time when the music stops.
  • Musical chairs, meanwhile, is a game where you walk in a circle round a set of chairs of which there is one chair less than the number of people playing. When the music stops, everyone goes to sit down...leaving one person chairless and, usually, in tears.
  • According to a report written by the Education Minister in 2000, Margaret Hodge, musical chairs is "too violent" for children.

Anyway, it's good to see the tradition of pink wafers and bendy straws keeps going. Now, where's my invitation?

Chippy is quids in for charity

Now, this is scary. At the end of June 2005 I included a list written on the back of a piece of paper from Seafare chip shop and made a comment. A person got in touch with me to say they work at Seafare. Then, a week ago (and therefore 5 months later), I found an old newspaper which features a story on Seafare chip shops raising £8,040 for St Luke's Cancer Appeal.

Scary coincidence, or the guiding hand of fate?