Being Modern: Lists
Though our telegram from the Queen appears to have been lost in the post, it must not be allowed to escape the nation’s attention that Being Modern is – as the more eagle-eyed among you may have noticed from the number above – 100 columns old today. Yay for us, etc.
And what better way to celebrate our arrival at a nice, round number than to compile a list? Or better still, to examine our ongoing fascination with such things. Not that even we can make the case that there is anything terribly modern about listing things. Hell, the Lord High Executioner had one when Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado opened in 1885 and someone called To Do has been leavingthem lying around all over the place for as long as anyone can remember.
But these are not the kind of lists we are talking about. No, the lists we are referring to are like the pop charts (themselves just turned 60, quick, let’s list something…), though they are not based on anything concrete, such as actual sales of actual units.
You know the ones we mean: Britain’s 100 favourite adverts/comedians/songs/poems/catchphrases/gadgets/films/lists and so on. Sometimes, these are even compiled by public vote, but that’s not the point, because the point is in the listing, as to do so gives us the illusion of order and the temporary chasing away of the chaos that surrounds us. (Our 100 favourite cod psychological explanations for everyday things, anyone?)
While it’s impossible to trace where this fetishisation for tabulation started, it is always good at times such as these to blame someone, so let’s have a pop at Nick Hornby. It was his High Fidelity alter ego (sorry, character) Rob Fleming, you might remember, who mistook compiling top-five lists for having a life and so shone a light on the fact that men seem to reserve a part of their brain for the listing of life’s crucial things (films seen, goals scored, gigs been to, children fathered).
And it’s not just men. Last year, my wife made a list of the things she wanted for Christmas. Naturally, I countered with my top-five reasons why we couldn’t afford them…
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
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