Thursday, August 03, 2006

278 - Route Planner

I've often said how I would like to visit some of the shoppers whose lists I have in the Compendium. Sometimes I find their addresses on old envelopes, sometimes on business letterheads. But never before have I been given a map!

Yep, check it out: this is a map from SM1 2TR (St James Road, Sutton) to SW13 9JT, which according to is St Paul's School in Hammersmith.

Now, this is interesting because a colleague has just got a new job teaching there...but it's unlikely that she was shopping at New Malden Tesco for a few random bits and bobs (presumably to make chilli con carne) which is where this list was found.

Still, at least if I ever want to visit her new place I know how to get there. If I'm starting from Sutton, that is.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

277 - Fishy Father, Filthy Matricide

You don't find people referred to as "father" and "mother" very much these days. You find "father" and "mother" referred to even less on shopping lists, but that's not to say it never happens - as this list shows.

Something fishy is definitely going on here. The shopper is clearly the offspring of the "father" and "mother" mentioned here, but is buying quite shockingly different things for each of their parents.

"Fish dish for father" is fair enough. Dads like fish. But, "bleach etc washing liquid (mother)" is a bit scary. Could this be a very dirty mother who needs a bloody good clean, or is it the shopper's attempt to kill off the mother for the inheritance? After all, father gets food while mother gets bleach.

The shopper has planned this murder well (and it wouldn't be the first time a murder has been solved through the evidence of a shopping list). In addition to the bleach to poison mother, they have also got "Tissues", "loo paper" and "loo wipes" to ensure all mess is quickly and effectively cleared up along with the "Floor mop liquid". Once that's done, the "Dove hand wash" will rid the final remnants of any evidence down the drain. "White wine" to celebrate the dastardly deed, perhaps?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

276 - This is a List

This is a list. Oh yes it is. And it's not just any old list, it's a THISISAKNIFE list.

I've just got back from Tesco with the nice chaps from Channel 4's weekly videocast, thisisaknife who featured the Compendium in January. Donal, Tim and I wandered around the trolleys searching out more lists while they recorded a nice little interview for this week's show.

This was the first list we found, and I promised to upload it to the web in case any thisisaknife viewers wanted to see the goodness :)

As for the list, there's a couple of things that stand out. One of them is the fact that "Bread" is written - not only in black pen rather than a pencil - but aso in different handwriting. The second exciting thing is that this is a shopper who either wishes to buy a straight caddy for tea, or maybe already has the caddy but wants some tea leaves for it. How very confusing! You can tell it's summer though - lots of "Salad" and things, although quite why "cucumber" needs to be listed separately is slightly inconsistent.

Monday, April 10, 2006

275 - Musical Fangs

Yet again, my deciphering skills have left a little to be desired. While I can make out the majority of this list, the odd word escapes me. Or, in the case of the seemingly "Musical Fangs", both words.

Most websites I've found on this topic refer to people sinking their "musical fangs" into stageshows, most of which seem kitschly camp like Rocky Horror.

But I don't think Tesco would take too kindly to me shopping in a basque and fishnets.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

274 - Thai Chicken Headache

The BBC broadcast a cookery program called Ready, Steady, Cook. Anthony Worrall-Thompson crops up on it on occasion (not to be confused with Dr Anthony Worrall at the University of Reading), along with an assortment of other "celebrity chefs" who take it in turns to make a meal out of a bunch of supposedly-random ingredients.

This shopper clearly watches it, as the recipe listed on this A4 sheet is a perfect recreation of Brian Turner's Thai Chicken Soup. In fact, you can even see the frantic scribbling on this list, as the shopper copied down the ingredients during the program.

And "Aspirin" too.

It must be stressful making soup.

Friday, April 07, 2006

273 - Cripple Sauce

What an unfortunate time for a ballpoint pen to stop working! Just as you round off the eastern reaches of an A you hit an air pocket. And bumph. Instead of buying "Apple Sauce" you get funny looks as you wander the aisles trying to buy Cripple Sauce.

What would cripple sauce be? Part of me thinks it's some kind of super-hot chilli sauce like Dave's Insanity Sauce, or my personal favourite - Dragonfart's Wet N Reddy BBQ sauce.

That stuff could strip wallpaper.

I love it.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

272 - Hi Mr. Foster

And "hi", straight back atcha. Oh, and you'll be paid next week, if that's okay? Thankyou!

Mr Foster is a kind-hearted gentleman. I doubt this is the first time he has gone shopping for bulky goods on behalf of the list-writer, as in order to complete the shop he needs an intricate knowledge of list abbreviation. "K. Roll" and "Mr. Muscle B. Cleaner" are, one would have thought, easy enough to decipher, but in the curious world of the list this is not always the case.

The interesting ditto marks under "Cat" are also worthy of a mention. An ellipsis (three dots) is usually used in speech to indicate a pause or an intentional omission in text; indeed, the word itself comes form the Greek for 'omission'. So why shop for "...litter" or "...bowls". It can mean only one thing. The list-writer meant to use ".

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

271 - Fruit to Dairy

Simple, really. It all starts with fruit ("Bananas" and "Lemon juice") and finishes with dairy - "Milk" and "Yoghurts".

Alice likes this list. She reckons you could make something with the "lemon juice", "flour" and "eggs". In fact, they do. Add these together with the "milk" and you've got instant pancakes.

Well, not quite instant, but pancakes nevertheless.

Mmmm, pancakes.



270 - Olives to Scale

"Plain flour" and "Yeast". I thought I was onto it. Really, I did. I thought it was some kind of pie. Especially as "Scale" features somewhere further down the list, perhaps a single weighing scale to measure out the ingredients for the aforementioned pie.

But perhaps not. Indeed, I've never come across a garlic and olive pie, and nor do I particularly want to.

Part of me thinks the secret to this list lies in the right-aligned item, but I can't decipher it. "2 pin frankfurther" perhaps? "2 pin lighter"?

I really haven't got a clue, but some anonymous commenters do. They've worked out that it's actually a "2 pin adapter". That certainly makes more sense than my own suggestions, but still doesn't help with the confusion around the pie. Oh well!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

269 - Face It!

Those of you who have trawled through the rest of the Compendium will have found that there are certain things that I really like about some shopping lists.

I like people who cateogrise their shop. I like people who write people's names. And I really like people who leave very personal insights. This is one such list.

The listed items themselves are really by-the-by. It's the phone number and address that's the best. Now, normally I'd blank stuff like that out, but this is the phone number and address for a business. And not just any business, but a beautician. And not just any old beautician, but a beautician in North London, about 15 miles away from where I found the list!

A particularly interesting thing about 17 Highgate High Street is that it's got quite a history. Between 1854-5 it was the offices of Hornsey local council's highway board, and went through a number of changes (including being a kebab shop in the mid-1980s) before Face It! took the place over. And they seem to be doign a good job - one website says:
I recently tried this beauty salon in Highgate. The service and attention by the
therapist was first class.The booking system is very efficient and they sell a
huge range of goods which make great presents (not just beauty products). I
would recommend anyone to try them out.

Go on, book yourself a facial and tell them where you found out about them. I bet they don't believe you.

268 - £200 For All That?

£200 for all that? Well, perhaps not. The fact that "£200 out" is at the end of the list leads me to an interesting conclusion. Namely, that this is £200 to be withdrawn at the end of the shoppign trip, perhaps through the medium of Cash Back.

I like cashback. It's like the supermarket is paying you shopping with them. Until you look at your bank statement, of course. The big problem with the cashback theory, though, is that the order of the other items on the list is not logical.

To be fair, the shopper has at least grouped items in general categories, but I can assure you that this is Not The Order Of The Store I Found The List At. Therefore either this person is clearly insane (and wrote this list for another store and dropped it at the one I found it at), or my theory is wrong.

Oh well.

267 - Light Lunch and Fags

The most intriguing thing about this list is not its content. Oh no. In fact, it's not particularly interesting at all. Quite mundane, in fact. I mean, it just looks like a few snacks for a light lunch.

However, I think it's quite interesting that the shopper has made ingenious use of a discarded cigarette packet to write their list on. It's even better that they've crossed out "LENTILS".

Healthy stuff? Nah, I'll stick to my fags.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

This Is A Knife


I've just discovered that the cult web-video-podcastish comedy thing featured the Compendium in one of their shows. Check it out at This Is A Knife (the Compendium was the opening item on Tuesday 24th January).

Monday, February 13, 2006

266 - A Delayed Christmas

I'm still scratching my head over how on earth this list was still in a trolley nearly a month and a half after Christmas. I guess there's two options.

One is that the list actually went undiscovered in a trolley for 6 weeks as a result of being stacked hundreds deep in the trolley park.

The second option is that the list is actually a new one, and the shopper is simply doing Christmas a tad bit late. Quite how they'd hope to get a large "christmas pudding", "mince pies" or "Christmas crackers" in February is beyond me though. Similarly why get gifts for "ACH + GTH (M&S clothes)" in February?

Perhaps ACH + GTH have been away for a few months and they're hoping to celebrate Christmas now they're back. Or maybe the shopper is living in some kind of weird dimension, a bit like the man who celebrates Christmas everyday.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

265 - Tidel Wave

I can't help but spot the link between what appears to read "Tidel Rolls" and "Water" on this list. It's a shame, therefore, that I think the rolls are actually "Tiolet Rolls". Either way, they're clearly misspelt.

The juxtaposition of the vague "Tins of Dog Food" with the specific "Pedigree Chum" is also an item of note.

Why the list is divided into two columns - each written in a different colour of pen - is beyond me. Perhaps the colour indicates family/personal use?

264 - Capital Irregularity

The first list I found when getting back into collecting, rather than eating from, lists was this one.

It's rare to find a list written predominantly in capital letters, and this one almost holds the award for being The List Completely Written In Capital Letters, but sadly it fails about half-way down (before then regaining its stride).

Is there any signifiance of the lower case "Sweets" or "Comfort". Perhaps the significance is actually that these items are _not_ significant, whereas items in capital letters are. But in that case, what does the crossing out mean, if not that something is insignificant?

Clearly this list presents us with a serious cognitive challenge.

Back to Normality?

Well, it's been a funn few weeks with all the media attention on the Compendium, but it's looking like things are slowly drifting back to normal. I'm on a halft-erm break from where I teach now, but much of my time is being taken up with packing boxes - we're moving house.

However, I'm also hoping to get some lists on the Compendium as soon as possible. Watch this space...

Monday, February 06, 2006


Local news is great, and there's one particularly good website to catch up on all the cool stuff that happens in London. It's called Londonist and today they published an interview with me, having already done a story on the Compendium in which I'm referred to as a "lovable loon". Cool, eh?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Media!

This morning the Compendium was featured on BBC Radio London's Breakfast Show with Jono Coleman and JoAnne Good. Ben came round in the radio car (i.e. a big estate with an enormous aerial that rises through the roof) to chat about the collection and the experiment this morning, although the interview wasn't broadcast until later on in the show.

Unfortunately for me, this meant I actually ended up missing it because I was at work. Doh!

As well as this spot on the radio I've also seen last week's interview with Kelly Armstrong at the Wimbledon News crop up in a couple of other places. It's so far appeared in the freely distributed Mitcham and Morden Guardian, and the Wimbledon Guardian under slightly different guises. For some reason, The St. Albans Observer also featured the story...despite the fact I live on the other side of London!

It also appeared, in slightly edited form, on This Is Local London - a website dedicated to (obviously) local stories in the captial.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Introduction to The Shopping List Experiment


Many thanks to those of you who have been in touch since my appearance on Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show. I had a fantastic time doing the show and Richard, Mel and the production team were fantastically friendly and welcoming to this "extraordinary man who collects shopping lists".

Since doing the show I've had many people contact me through both list comments and email to ask more about The Shopping List Experiment. While I get myself ready to update the site with my full shenanigans, I thought I'd upload an edit I've done of the video diary I kept during the two-week long Experiment to give you an introduction to what the Experiment was all about.

Just so you know, it's a Windows Media File and is just under 2.5MB in size. Ready to watch it? Well then...just hit play, and wait for it to buffer (about 10 seconds on a broadband connection).

(p.s. the music is The Clash's "Lost In The Supermarket" and "Mum's Gone To Iceland" by Bennet).

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Compendium Hits the TV!

Hello all,

Regular visitors may wonder why the Compendium has not been updated in the past few weeks. Well, it's not because I've been stalking the Celebrity Big Brother House but rather that I've been working on a very secret, but very exciting, Shopping List Experiment.

I can't say too much at the moment, but can reveal that it's all to do with abandoned shopping lists (predictably) and what I eat.

All will be revealed live on today's (Wednesday 25th January) "Richard Hammond's 5 O'Clock Show" on ITV1. Tune in from 5pm to find out more!

A busy day!

I've just got back from doing a very fun interview on Shane O'Connor's mid-morning show on Radio Derby where I spoke about the Compendium and plugged the TV show I'm on this afternoon. The surreal thing about it was that while Shane was in his studio in Derby, I was sat in a tiny little room in Broadcasting House in London - yet it sounded like we were in the same room. Ah, the wonders of technology, eh?

In addition to touting my wares on the radio this morning I also made it onto the front page of the Wimbledon News, my local paper! And all this before I've even had time for my breakfast of pancakes and strawberry syrup. The caption under the photo asks whether "Collector Scott Allsop" is "Off his trolley?" That's genius.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

263 - Mexican Tonight?

What if the answer is "yes"?

Having gone to the effort of writing a list for various food items, it really surprises me that this shopper is tempted to discard it in favour of asking "Mexican tonight??" That they clearly need to use a list to remember such basics as "2 x Bread" and "Milk" suggests that the shopper doesn't stand much chance of getting the correct ingredients to make "Mexican tonight??" without a prompt.

However, perhaps the list has been written FOR a shopper, not BY the shopper. In this case, the list may be the items noted by someone left at home, who has also suggested to the shopper that they could get "Mexican tonight??"

I'm also a bit confused by the indentation for "Ham", "pizza" and "Mince" under "Ravioli". Indentation usually suggests the inclusion of itmes that fit under a subheading, or are related to the left-aligned item above. On this list, though, this isn't the case.

My mind boggles.

262 - Pencil and Pen

The erratic noting of items (see how "clear candle bulb" takes up the width of the paper, but "Box for champagne" is squeezed into the top right corner) suggests that this list has been created as an when items have been required in the home. The is theory is supported by the various writing implements used - blue biro, black biro and even pencil.

My favourite item on this list is "nice ham". The vagueness of this, combined with the erratic nature of the list, reveals someone who has begun the new year with a distinctly confused bump.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

261 - Just the Two?

"eggs. x 2." What is this strange code? One would think that this shopper means to only buy 2 eggs, but such a feat is impossible on our modern supermarkets. Nay, eggs come in a minumum of a half-dozen, right up to batches of 36. And so, I assume the shopper requires 2 half dozen boxes of eggs. I doubt anyone could get through 72 of them.

The apperance of "bubble bath." halfways down the list is quite funny. Its placement after "g almonds." makes it seem like some kind of high class bathtime ritual, but I suspect the shopper simply remembered, "aaah, I need bubble bath!" while considering the ingredients for marzipan, or whatever they were getting the ground almonds for.

"Walkers", I presume, are crisps. I'm quite sure that even my local (but enormous) Tesco has not developed an in-store range of ramblers just yet.

260 - Chips, and More Chips

What beautiful handwriting. Really, I mean it. Mine looks like an inebriated spider has stumbled across the page, but this shopper has lovely handwriting. What they don't have, though is any shame.

The list begins reasonably sanely, as a combination of necessary homewares, and then moving onto food for the cupboard. It all goes wrong after "chips" though. "ketchup" is fair enough: chips and nice with ketchup. But what is with "chips vinegar"?

There could be three possible explanations. Firstly, the shopper wishes to buy chips specifically to eat with vinegar. Second, they want vinegar that is specifically to eat with chips. The third option is that they want chips pre-flavoured with vinegar. If the list arrangement is anything to go by, I reckon it must be option three...but I've never known of chips that are pre-flavoured with vinegar.

The problem is that the shopper has maintained a system of one-item-per-line down the whole of the list, even going so far as to separate "chips" from "ketchup". "Chips vinegar" MUST be a single item. Wow!

Monday, January 02, 2006

259 - Starting Badly

Compared to the first shop by the owner of list 258, this shopper is starting 2006 badly. I must admit that our first shop today wasn't the best example of healthy eating (bread, naan bread and carrots were the constituent parts, but we did eye up a big chocolate cake for a few minutes before deciding that our drawer of chocolates was more than enough to keep us going).

This shopper, though is clearly wanting to put on a bit of weight this year. In fact, the potentially healthiest thing on here is "cocoa", which while not strictly fattening in itself can be lethal when given to mix with full cream milk, plenty of sugar, and sit and get a chocolately moustache. Mmmmm.

I think I'm going to have to raid that chocolate drawer...

258 - New Year Cleaning

The first list of 2006 is absolutely perfect. Just as we begin to think about tidying our houses after the onslaught of the holiday period, this shopper is one step ahead and has actually bought their cleaning wares. "J Cloths", "Disposable cloths" and even a pair of "Rubber Gloves" are there, but not before they've had a strong cup of "Filter Coffee" to ensure they can face the awful mess.

Perhaps they've made a New Year's resolution to keep their house clean...and then decided that a great way to begin was to get a bunch of flowers to make the place smell nice as well? If you look carefully, "Flowers" are in a slightly different coloured pen, proving that they were an after-thought.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Greetings, listophilists, and happy 2006! The Christmas season has gone and, I must admit, was a bit disappointing for this list collector. I expected there to be hundreds of the little things around but, despite visiting the supermarket (or at least the supermarket car park) a number of times over the break I found very few.

My theory for this is twofold. Firstly, there were considerably more trolley blokes on duty than normal, and so rather than trolleys beign spewed all over the car park as normal, they were stacked in neat rows from which it is almost impossible to retrieve lists, even if you can see them.

Secondly, I think people are a bit more protective over lists that they have spent considerable amounts of time creating.

But now the New Year is upon us I'm hoping that list quantities will soon return to normal and I'll be able to hit the 300-mark before the site's first birthday in April. Here's hoping...

And so, without further ado, onto the lists!