Stitches, steps and Rhoda

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Stitches have been added

I worked a fair bit on the cushion cover the weekend after I dug it out of storage, but didn’t add much at all this week. Looking back at the previous photo, I have put the last few touches on the leaf to the left of the rose, worked a reasonable amount in the top right-hand quadrant, and most recently started working on the top left of the rose itself. I am finding it quite hard to determine if I’m using the right colour wool a lot of the time, and I find I need to refer to the photo on the cover of the pack to aid me, particularly with some of the pale pink, white and pale apricot shades. I am not sure how precise I am being, but perhaps it doesn’t have to be precise anyway.

This is definitely a good project to work on right now. It has the right balance of being something I can put down and pick up with minimum fuss and the chocolate button temptation of doing just doing one more little bit. It is satisfying my craving for some colour in my life whilst being less taxing than knitting a garment. I think it is a case of cometh the day, cometh the project,

I don’t know how many stitches I have added, but one thing I do know is the steps I walked on Saturday, grocery shopping and flat hunting: 25, 662! 11.73 miles! The Apple Exercise app gave me a medal and my feet thoroughly deserved it.

I am back immersing myself in New York, 1974 by watching episodes of Rhoda which was a spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It is about Mary’s friend Rhoda after she moves back to New York from Minneapolis. It is rather sweet and may well be the reason I never felt the urge to watch Sex and the City – surely just the same thing a couple of decades later….

 

Inevitable

2005 Moving in
2005 Moving in

If you watch the modern iteration of Dr Who you may be familiar with the departure of David Tennant’s Doctor and his final, despairing phrase: “I don’t want to go.” Knowing that in the next two months I have to leave the flat I’ve been lucky enough to live in for the past fourteen years, that same feeling is constantly with me.

I have been looking back at the photos I took before and just after I moved into the flat, and so much has changed, although core elements have stayed the same. There was always a bag of knitting beside my favourite seat, and books, and cups of tea. Even in the very first photos I took, there is a teacup on the window-sill.

Looking at the photos, though, has led me to ask one vital question – what did I do with that green needlework cushion? It’s there, sitting on the green chair in this photo in February 2005, but by the time I took my Christmas photos it had disappeared from view. I simply don’t remember what I did with it. I remember making it and I really liked it, so I’m surprised that all memory of it has been so successfully erased.

The green chair is one of my favourite possessions, and still has a proud place in my living room. I inherited it from my parents who inherited it from my grandparents. I would dearly love to have it re-covered in a Laura Ashley fabric, but that plan is definitely on my “if I won the Lottery” list.

When I moved into this flat, I was downsizing from the house I had lived in with my parents, and I had no idea what furniture I would use in my new, solo, flat-dwelling life. I have to keep reminding myself as I think of the new move to take place, that I am in a much better position now. I know that the items I have are, on the whole, the items I will be moving with. This time I have no illusions of shaping myself to suit the space, I know that whatever I move into will in time become my home, filled with my things, and reflecting my personality. That is my definition of a home.

A curiosity cabinet

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Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl – progress to date

Today I am going to write about a miscellany of ideas, connected only in that they spark my interest, thus the title of “Curiosity Cabinet” seemed appropriate.

To kick things off, there is progress on my Crazee Cowl and I am now on the seventh of the planned ten colours. I must admit I am ready for this to be finished and I am reserving the right to call it done without using all ten mini skeins. That being said, the colour I started at the weekend is very much my cup of tea, gorgeous shades of deep purple/blue, teal and turquoise with splashes of verdant green and yellow. This has led me to conclude that when I am using a colourful yarn I like it to be really vibrant and multicoloured. It’s not that I dislike the more muted combinations in middle of the cowl, I just really like the bright ones.

I like to learn from the projects I work on, and if my learning point on this one has been to invest in wild and wonderful colours on my special skeins of yarn then it’s a lesson well worth learning. Thinking about it, this cowl itself has the air of a curiosity cabinet about it, and if I wasn’t so enamoured with the Slade-inspired “Mama Weer All Crazee Cowl” I think I would rename it “Curiosity Cabinet”.

Now we’re into August I’ve been looking at the latest brochures over on Rowan Yarns’ website and, in particular, Martin Storey’s recent offerings which include some lovely, wearable patterns, as I expect from my favourite designer. I particularly like Neat from All Year Round (a very basic v-necked jumper) and Holburn from Easy DK Knits (the round-neck jumper with split and buttoned welt). I think a combination of the two would be particularly interesting. Although I’m not a hoodie girl, I do like the look of Homespun. Finally, I’ve included Tactile, not because of the pattern, but because the first thing I noticed in the picture was the profile of those sliding doors, having spent seven years of my life becoming very closely acquainted with that product line. It’s funny what sticks with you when you are no longer involved with a thing on a daily basis.

Away from the knitting, I’ve been working on my goals for the next three months, as I was pondering in my previous blog post. Over the weekend I worked through a free training module on the American Franklin Planner website and I must say it sparked my enthusiasm to think about my core values much better than either of the books I’ve been reading this year (Getting Things Done by David Allen and The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll). Perhaps it is just the brevity of it that appealed to me, who can tell?

I’ve enjoyed a couple of podcasts over the weekend. On the knitting theme, there was the latest offering from Melissa of Knitting The Stash and I particularly enjoyed the part about receiving vintage knitting magazines for her birthday during which she touched upon the idea that knitting patterns themselves are often quite timeless, it is the styling of the photography which changes and which makes things seem dated. I love a good vintage pattern so I was very interested in this. The other podcast which was audio rather than video, was from NASA and covered commercial ventures in the space programme from whether products can be/should be endorsed, to encouraging commercial space ventures in order to utilise their facilities to reduce the cost of future exploration. All fascinating stuff.

Lastly, here’s a photo I took last week of the military area at Earlham Road Cemetary, with the Spirit of the Army standing sentinel over the soldiers in the summer rain.

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Memory Lane Again

With Mum & Canon

Some things just get lost in the mists of time, and that is right and good, it clears the way for the next innovation. Take the hand-knitted cream jacket folded neatly on my arm in this photo taken somewhere by the sea in Kent in the later half of the 1970s. The pattern for that jacket is long gone, and I remember so little about it that reconstruction is not a possibility. Oh, I could make a stab, and I could get close, but it wouldn’t be that jacket, just a cream hand-knit jacket slightly reminscent of it.

As I recall, the design was slightly boxy without buttons; it had a slash neck – you can see in the photograph that the front is a long straight line right up to the shoulder. When worn, the neck would naturally fall open forming a soft, ad-hoc rever. The yoke area was worked in a one-by-one rib, but I can’t remember if the body was textured or just stocking stitch. I am guessing that I used an aran-weight yarn, because it felt more like a jacket than a cardigan.

I found the pattern in a UK knitting magazine that was published in a small format – probably A5 – and which had a fairly short lifespan. I can’t find anything in my internet research that seems to relate to this publication, but there are references to “Mon Tricot” which was also in a small format and published in the 1960s and early 1970s.  I bought my first copy of this mystery magazine in a newsagent on the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1976 then I got a few copies from shops before it became subscription only. I subscribed, but it wasn’t long before it petered out completely.

I can remember knitting a couple of other patterns as well as the cream jacket. There was a plain and simple twinset (short-sleeved sweater and long-sleeved cardigan) in a lightweight yarn, which featured a square neckline and folded hems – très chic. The wool I used was quite luxurious for the time, containing at least some cashmere, and I bought it in Aldertons, a little haberdashery shop that inhabited one of the historic buildings on Swan Lane in Norwich for at least a hundred years before closing down in the 80s or 90s. Although mainly dedicated to sewing, if you climbed a tiny, twisty wooden staircase to the first floor you would find a small selection of knitting wools.

The other pattern I knitted was a thick gilet made in a chunky wool for which the design was worked in three horizontal bands with each band being folded down on itself to double the fabric before the next section was added. It was an ingenious construction.

Returning to this cream jacket, I have been wondering whether I should add a cream version of that cabled jacket in my previous post to my list of things to make. It would not be a direct re-visit of this old project, but more an homage to the basic concept (I fear that may be akin to a fashion designer revealing the inspiration for their latest collection and you looking and saying “You what?”). I am not sure, however, because I rather like the idea of the heavily cabled jacket in a jewel toned yarn. It may be the destiny of this cream jacket to live on in memory, and this photograph, only.

Finally, to bring things bang up to date, I have a finished object! The Cable Front Cardigan is off the needles, washed, and ready to wear. I’ll do my wrap-up post on Monday with some finished object glamour shots.

I hope you all survived the week in good shape and that you have time this weekend to put in a bit of work on your crafts, whatever they may be.

Pink Ice-Cream

First Jumper

Uh-oh, it’s the 1970s again! Just look at those flares! I wouldn’t be surprised to find a platform sole hiding just out of shot.

Here I am with my lovely Mum at the seaside (I think it’s the Isle of Wight in which case it’s the summer of 1977) and I’m wearing the first jumper I knitted myself after I left school.

Along with my sisters, I was a keen knitter from the age of 5 when I learned the basics from our mum. I can remember knitting dolls’ clothes and scarves, but I don’t remember actually knitting myself any garments as a child or young adult. A little later I learned to crochet (I think it was our oldest sister who taught us that) and I remember crocheting tank tops in the early 1970s, but then who doesn’t? When I left school at 16, there was a lovely long summer before I started working in the autumn, and it was during that summer that I picked up the knitting needles and, really, never stopped.

This jumper was incredibly simple, just a basic v-neck pattern with set-in sleeves and I am pretty sure it was knitted in a man-made yarn. However, it fitted nicely and was warm and comfortable and, really, doesn’t that sum up what a hand-knitted garment should be?

This is the first of my ‘historical’ projects which is inspiring me to make a revisit. On this one, it’s a combination of the colour and the simplicity of the garment – that vibe of being a step up from a basic cotton sweatshirt – which is inspiring me. I have been yearning to knit something in an ice-cream pink for so long and I think this year will have to be the year.

I have been working away over the past couple of weeks setting up an archive of completed knitting projects on this website and, if you care to take a look at any, you can find it linked on my main menu. It is my intention to log new projects as I begin them so I end up with a proper archive of the things I knit. I do have a number which I made but didn’t originally bother to log, so I may go back and record them if I can find photos and details of yarns and patterns. In time, I might also add a page of stashed yarn, although I might be being a bit ambitious there.

Well, that’s all I wanted to say, and now the weekend is peeping over the horizon. I hope you’ve got nice things planned, and I will see you back here on Monday, I hope, for more chatter about inconsequential things.

So glad I grew up in…

With Mum 1

… the 1970s

Yeah, that’s not going to come as a surprise to anyone! This is the decade where I spent my teenage years and, although I wouldn’t return to being a teenager if you paid me, I am truly grateful that those are ‘my’ years because when I look back on them they were so much fun. Okay, so it was a period of political upheaval in the UK, with the Irish troubles constantly making headlines and trades union actions leading to regular power cuts and the introduction of the 3-day week which, as I recall, didn’t apply to schools so I didn’t benefit!

Yet, set against that, here are five things that I look back on with immense fondness.

The music

Oh, yes. From Glam Rock to Punk: T Rex singing “Ride A White Swan” in 1970 to Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” in 1979, I was there! Roy Wood of Wizzard was my pop pin-up and I had a big poster of him in the bedroom I shared with my sister. There will never be a Christmas song to top “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” and I will brook no argument on that. I patiently waited until I was in my 50s to see Roy Wood live and also got to see another 1970s favourite – The Stylistics – around the same time. But the 70s were also the years of Don McLean, Bread, Alvin Stardust, more Don McLean, Neil Diamond, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and a host of others who provided the background music to my adolescence.

We had transistor radios and listened to Radio 1 and Radio Caroline. We had cassette recorders on which we could tape music off the radio (and make mix-tapes for our loved ones) or play our favourite albums bought legitimately on cassette (Andy’s Records was the big Norwich seller at the time). We still had record players and bought on Vinyl too. My oldest sister even had an 8-track player which provided my introduction to Leonard Cohen. Now the big thing is music streaming services and where is the romance in that?

The clothes

For a long while the 1970s were labelled as the decade that style forgot, and there were some hideous crimes against fashion in that decade – from Glam Rock to Punk! However, for me it was also a very classically fashionable decade and provided the bedrock of my wardrobe for ever more. What I remember best are the a-line skirts hitting between the bottom of the knee and the middle of the calf and the trousers actually reaching to your waist. There were Oxford Bags and a lot of other 1920s influences like Fairisle knitwear, and there was plaid, not to mention the ever-present Laura Ashley mini floral print. Wool coats for winter and cheesecloth for summer. Men in suits – what heaven for a heterosexual lady was the 1970s office full of men in suits and ties.

The photo at the top of this post shows me in one of my favourite outfits of the later 1970s – a soft pink tweedy skirt and lightweight cotton blouse which if I recall correctly had little pintucks and a line of embroidered flowers on the front. Accessorised with a big shoulder bag, heels, and the worst hair cut of all time! Love it.

The TV

You can all chant along with me as I go through this list! Alias Smith and Jones, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, Blake’s 7, Dr. Who (Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker shared the decade). Yet there were also gems like A Horseman Riding By, The Day of the Triffids, Survivors, The Quest (American cowboy series with Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson), The High Chaperral (more cowboys), The Devil’s Crown (historical drama from the height of the BBC’s reign, about the Plantagenets), the start of the BBC’s epic task of televising all of Shakespeare’s plays.

It might well be that you will be sitting in the year 2059 still awstruck by how good Killing Eve was, but I am not entirely sure that will be the case. I think we got the best of the best in the 1970s.

The holidays

I had one foreign holiday in the 1970s – two weeks on Crete with my sister, brother-in-law, and a friend of theirs. It wouldn’t count as exotic or even, probably, enviable nowadays, but it was a great adventure for me. Other than that,  I happily pottered about the UK with my parents and had lovely, simple times that were just plain enjoyable. From the early 1970s in a camper van in Scotland to the later 1970s of the above photograph, visiting Canterbury; via the Isle of Wight where we stayed in an old house with no TV and where I bought a book which really boosted my newly-revived interest in knitting. I loved my holidays every bit as much as the trips to Thailand that are obligatory for teenagers now.

Swisskit

Will anything sum up the loved-and-lost nature of the 1970s as well as the Swisskit? I loved these fruit and chocolate and meusli bars for an intense period in the mid-70s and then they disappeared, never to be seen again.

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It isn’t conceivable that they were as good as I remember them, but I often think now how good it would be to sink my teeth into a Swisskit again!

So, yes, this is my ode to the 1970s, decade of my youth, and the years that made me the decidedly odd person I am now (heaven only knows how it fared for the ones who took drugs!). Let’s raise a glass of Blue Nun to the memories.

The new and the old

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My current progress – not much to write home about

Well, hello there, welcome to Wednesday and my latest knitting update. As I intimated last week, there has been a slowdown in progress because I was engaged in ‘proper’ work last week, by which I mean a paying job carried on outside my home. One week was more than enough, though, and I am back to trying to puzzle out how to generate income without having to sit on a customer service desk for seven and a half hours a day, whilst hoping that other job opportunities will come along that involve methodical ‘back-office’ work needing someone with limitless patience when it comes to paper-handling, plus general plod-ability.

However, progress there has been, despite the overall rising of temperatures here in East Anglia, UK. Whilst I have only put about two rows on the Crazee Now cowl, I am a good halfway up the back of the Cable Front Cardigan which, thankfully, grows apace without me putting in a horrific amount of effort. I think this is on track to be in my wardrobe well ahead of the chilly autumn days which, it has struck me this week, can’t come soon enough for me. I don’t generally enjoy summer a lot, being an indoors rather than outdoors kind-of girl, a cooked vegetables rather than salad type, a opter for rhubarb crumble and custard rather than strawberries and cream. Wait, I need a short break here to fantasise about steamed jam roly-poly!

Okay, now that’s out of my system, I am going to write a little about an old project because there isn’t so much to say about my current knitting. The jumper I’m going to write about dated back to 2008 and it was one I really loved and enjoyed wearing. A plain, mid-blue, v-necked, long-sleeved jumper, it shouldn’t have been anything special, but it was one of the knits that stands out in my memory as just being eminently wearable.

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Jumper modelled on completion by 2008-me!

For me, one of the most successful things about this jumper was the yarn – “Grace” by Louisa Harding which is sadly gone from this place*. This was a DK-weight yarn, 50% Silk/50% Merino wool and it knitted, washed and wore like a dream. Initially it was sold in solid colours then a range of multi-coloured options were introduced. This blue was the only batch I ever bought and I kick myself for that. In 2010 I had a sweater’s quantity of a Rowan yarn with a similar fibre content, but found that one to be very splitty, and not anywhere near as pleasant to use. I started a jumper with it, but never finished, and in the end I sent the majority of the yarn to a charity shop, realising I would never want to use it.

I think the pattern for the jumper was from a pattern book that accompanied the yarn, although I’m sure I modified it by keeping the neckline very simple, bordered only by a minimal crochet edge. I remember the yarn being on the thick side for a double-knitting weight and the fabric pleasingly dense, with the silk content providing a softness and feeling of luxury but not giving it a drape as such. I know this jumper was part of my regular rotation of knitted garments for a good number of years, and that the fabric stood up to wearing and washing very well indeed.

Thinking about it, I could really do with a good, serviceable blue jumper in my winter wardrobe. I seem to have edged towards the teal end of the the blue shades over recent years, but a good mid-blue is eternally useful. Mind you, my plans for winter involve a couple of jumpers in icy shades. Perhaps soon I will treat you to revisit of the first jumper I knitted when I took up the needles again in 1976 after a bit of a hiatus during my early teens. If that seems like a non-sequiteur, it isn’t – the jumper was an icy pink shade and is the inspiration for the ones I am thinking of knitting this winter.

So, that’s all for now, folks! I hope your week is going well, and you are making progress on your plans and schemes. I need to head into the kitchen and sort out the vegetables I have been batch-cooking this morning; get them into the freezer, keeping out a serving to do vegetable rice for my tea.


* “Gone from this place” is a line used in the 2002 movie adaptation of HG Wells’ “The Time Machine” when describing Eloi who have been taken and eaten by the Morlocks, which is probably what happens to all those yarns we love when they stop being produced! If only I had bought the printed copy of “The Time Machine” that I was looking at yesterday I would be able to check if it’s actually used in the original text. Alas, I was not in a forward-thinking mood and now I would need a time machine to put it right!


 

What you’ve always had

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Cable front cardi #1 (2006)

Having touched on the idea of always getting what you’ve always had in my previous post, I thought today I would do a show-and-tell about the previous versions of the cable front cardigan I’m knitting.

Above is the first version in a Katia yarn which I believe was part wool and part acrylic. I always thought of this as my “international cardigan” because it was knitted in England using Spanish wool bought in France by an English lady who was born in Germany in an English hospital staffed by Canadians! I did the cabled scarf part in the asymmetric style of the original pattern. This was a really nice top that I wore a lot. The man-made element of the yarn meant the fabric was quite floppy/silky so it draped very nicely and although it is quite cropped and wide, it never felt too boxy.

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Cable front cardi #2 (2011)

I didn’t really take to this second version quite as much as the first, perhaps because it was a bit too boxy, I was a bit too fat, and the gauge was a bit too tight. Looking at it now, I also think that button is way too high up! It was really cosy, though, and I wore it a fair bit. This was knitted with J C Rennie coned 4-ply wool held double, which yielded a Worsted weight fabric. You will see that on this one I kept the scarf front the same the whole way around and I’m not sure that was a good move.

Having looked at the photos of both now, I think I will go with the asymmetric scarf on my newest version. I am also making the body a little longer on this new version which I hope will prove flattering. It is always hard to tell, part of the way through a project which is knit in pieces, quite how the whole will hang once it’s all finished and pieced together. That can be a persuasive argument for all-in-one knits, but I rather like the big reveal at the end of the project when I get to be very happily impressed, or slightly underwhelmed.

I’m going to leave you with a funny thought – if I follow the mathematic sequence set so far, I will be knitting my next version of this in 2030 and I will be 70 years old.

I hope your projects, knitting or otherwise, are trundling along well and that you managed to either get on with them during the week or are planning a weekend with them.

See you on Monday.

Not a whimsy

14-06-19 Darrow Wimsey

This week, I’ve been paying my respects to the late Paul Darrow by re-watching the 1973 BBC production of Murder Must Advertise in which he plays an advertising copywriter. It’s a role which grows in complexity as the four-part story unfolds and Darrow is excellent in it, capably portraying the character as ingratiating, bullying, enmeshed in a derailed lover affair, and, through it all, managing to be utterly charming. He wears the sharp 1930s suit and tie very well, and ultimately, he gets a chance at heroism of a sort. It’s a very good performance as part of a very good ensemble cast.

Five years later, Paul Darrow would don the iconic leathers to portray Avon in Blake’s 7 with pretty much the same set of characteristics! Indeed, Vila (Michael Keating) was often to be seen in a similar pose to the above when Avon spoke to him. I see many parallels between the two performances and I salute Mr Darrow for being able to play characters who might, on the surface, not seem worthy of our admiration, and show that they, too, have their good sides as well as their bad.

I do enjoy this particular set of Lord Peter Wimsey adaptations, the ones starring Ian Carmichael. If you can track down Murder Must Advertise it’s well worth a watch, as are all the other stories in the series. (Blake’s 7 is also represented via an appearance in Wimsey’s The Nine Tailors by David Jackson who played Gan in the sci-fi series. That story also provided a part for a young John Duttine who went on to star in the BBC production The Devil’s Crown in 1978, then To Serve Them All My Days and The Day of the Triffids in 1981.)

Actually, mentioning To Serve Them All My Days leads me nicely into the tin shown in this photo:

14-06-19 Tin

I use it to store ink cartridges, but I am unsure of its original use. It belonged to my maternal grandparents and had been used for many, many years to store a lock of hair, although I have no idea whose hair it was.  For some reason, I always think this tin dates to the First World War, thus the connection with To Serve Them All My Days which begins in that era. This is one of those little items that provides a tangible link with people I loved, and it is my joy to be able to put it to a useful purpose and cradle it through another generation. It also reminds me I am going to have to use up those ink cartridges and to do that I am going to have to use up the red ink in my Cross pen. Perhaps when I finish the green ink I’m currently using to write my daily journal I will have a couple of weeks of writing that in red. Sounds like a plan.

Finally, I wanted to just refer back to last Friday’s post where I wrote about trying to use my memory more. Starting with small steps, this week I’ve been doing a memory exercise which I think some people would think is ridiculously simple and others ridiculously hard. Each morning, immediately upon waking up, I tell myself what day of the week it is and what one thing I really need to get done. It’s easy to wake up befuddled and with a firm belief that it is totally the wrong day of the week, and so this is an interesting challenge.

I hope you have had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend. At the moment it looks like we can look forward to rather less rain next week which will be a pleasure.

Imagining my brain is exactly the right size

“Come on, Frank, an officer files things in his head. He doesn’t remember them until they pop up, you know that: a face, a street, a name, a number, zabba-dabba-doo, like that…”

Lieutenant Theo Kojak/1976


Listen to – Gladys Knight and the Pips “So Sad The Song” (I know that we both talked it over, said it’s best to forget)
Read or watch – Ray Bradbury “Fahrenheit 451” (people memorising stories because the books are being burned)


My avid consumption of books and videos about various methods of time management/planning has led me to an interesting juncture; a conundrum which is summed up by two equal and opposing concepts:-

  • “Use it or lose it”
  • “Your brain is not for storage, it is for creativity”

Most planning systems are based on the second of these two ideas and posit that you cannot trust your brain to store and organise all of the information about your life. You therefore need a trusted system to capture all your memories, all your thoughts, all your ideas, everything you need to do and everywhere you need to be so that your brain can be clear.

There is a barely disguised suggestion in this that life is so complex and so fast that your brain is not big enough for it.

However, there is an increasing amount of media coverage about the first of the concepts, advising us on how we need to exercise our brains and do crosswords, or Sudoku puzzles, or memorise poetry if we are to avoid our brains atrophying.

Oh, you are not memorising poetry yet? I have several large passages committed to memory and am currently working on “Meeting Point” by Louis MacNeice: I know all the verses, but struggle to keep them in the right order.

The idea of being able to trust my brain appeals to me, perhaps because I have never really been a list-maker and regardless of how many hand-written or device-orientated “to do” lists I have, I tend to do what is uppermost in my mind. Conversely, I find the idea of not being able to trust my brain very upsetting because I want to be in control of my direction; I don’t want to cede that control to a leather-bound planner or a whizzy device, however much I enjoy owning and playing with such items.

My brain, when I choose to use it, is actually pretty good at recalling things, and at prioritising what needs to be done. When I begin to lose track it is usually because I have become over-burdened, either with tasks that need doing or with more insidious “input”. It is not that I have forgotten what is most important at the time, more that I have successfully over-written it with fluff. In fact, I feel that often failure to accomplish something because “I forgot” is inaccurate and I should instead say “I chose not to remember”.

Of course, I am not espousing the rejection of all written or recorded material in favour of brain-power alone, just a more organic and more thoughtful use of both. And now I have to refer back to Kojak to illustrate a way of working that could be relevant now, either between managers and their team members, or just within your own personal task-setting.

Here is the scene – Kojak is sitting in his office and he yells “Crocker!” Detective Crocker appears and Kojak barks one concise instruction at him. Crocker doesn’t need to write it down, he has a single, well-defined task to do and he shoots off and does it. If it involves finding some information, he comes back, maybe with a brief written note, and tells Kojak the answer and that progresses the investigation. (I accept that sometimes even Kojak is a little blurry – like the episode that contained the line “Crocker – do it all.” On the whole he’s pretty good with his instructions.)

You will note that they didn’t have to book a meeting room and work through a long list of items of varying importance which they could only recall because they’d written them on a @Kojak/@Crocker list. I think in the modern workplace we can get bogged down in detail and lose immediacy. If we were giving our brains the leading role in our work, we might focus more on the really important and the really urgent and leave behind some of the purely bureaucratic and petty tasks that we consider so important in our current endeavours.

It is useful to write down times and dates in a diary, to remind ourselves of things that we need to attend to at a given moment and sometimes it is necessary to write a list of everything you need to do because you lack focus on that day, or in that hour. I just don’t want to delegate everything to some other system when using my brain could be a better way all-round.

So, this week I am trying to think hard about what I need to do next to make progress on the important things in my life and I am treating pen and paper, and my electronic devices, as aides-memoire instead of using my brain to assist the all-important List. I hope I will feel more human this way, because no-one wants to be just an organic limb carrying out the demands of a non-sentient catalogue of tasks.

Yes, I have no doubt there will be a lot of things that I forget, but I think that is how we sieve out that good ideas from the not so good ones. I wonder if, somewhere along the line, I might find that my brain is exactly the right size for my life.