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Lists of Note

Did you know that nursery rhymes are full of violence! Well, according to Geoffrey Chandler-Taylor in 1952, after having analysed more than 200 traditional nursery rhymes, came to the conclusion that more than half of these harboured ‘unsavoury elements’.

 He then went on to publish this information in his book. Following this, he then created a truly magnificent list of the violence found in the said rhymes.

There were eight allusions to murder (unclassified), one case of devouring human flesh, one case lunacy, four cases of cursing right down to two cases of racial discrimination, one case of boiling to death and so the list goes on. It does make you wonder just what does masquerade under the title of children literature.

His is just one of the many fascinating lists that are collated within this marvellous collection of what may seem to be trivia to many, but a treasure chest to others.

Lists, for whatever reason created, give an insight into the personality of the person creating them and have been created for hundreds of years. From the housewife creating her shopping list, to the lady of the manner creating her linen lists, authors listing ideas, writers collecting words, a prop list for theatre and simply lists for present giving.

There are endless reasons to create lists. Harry Houdini the great escape artist created his list as a Scene and Prop list leaving nothing to chance for his requirements, listing 100 gallons of Boiling water (must be boiling) and his lumbar requirements amongst his other needs for his performance.

West Virginia Hospital for the Insane has a list of reasons to admit patients to the hospital. Some simply make you laugh and others simply do make you wonder ,such as Kick of horse and Intemperance and business Trouble!

Tibetan Monks went to shop along the Silk Road for fabrics in the form of blankets and other goods. Their list of purchases in their shopping list dates back to the 10th century.

Each page presents a fascinating insight into life as it was and became, with a little text of explanation coupled with the list in understandable format.  Some of them are pictured in their original format. A picture of the original list is on the facing page which gives a depth of colour in the fullest sense of the words, as to why the list was created.

 Inventory takes on a whole new meaning when you take a look at French novelist Georges Perec whose attempt to list everything he ate or drank for a year is still possibly to be rivalled, and should it have been so it would only be by few. It does truly give an insight into what he consumed in 1974.

These are just few within the pages of fascinating lists which will keep you intrigued for hours. While you are dipping into this endless and amazing variety of lists do make sure you take note of ‘A Love List’ by Eero Saarinen in a written in 1954 after his wedding to Aline Bernstein Louchheim, listing all the reasons he fell in love with his wife.

We could all do far worse. So do enjoy this feast of wondrous lists. They are truly unique and delightful.

AuthorShaun Usher
PublisherA&U Canongate