Lists, changes and optimism / by Nigel Rumsey

a seascape from the island St. Ives I intended writing a post about the rather unremarkable subject of Camera Manuals, and that is coming. However I started wondering whether the location in which I write effects what and how I write. Generally I don’t think is does, however in this instance, as I’ve abandoned the intended subject to talk only about this location and the emotions it stirs, I can only conclude the answer has to be a resounding yes.

I’m writing perched on a rock off of ‘The Island’ in St Ives, on England’s south-west coast. Because of that I’m writing, for the first time in a very long while, with a pen on actual paper. It seemed vaguely ridiculous to drag my laptop along the coastal path, past the assembled tourists, surfers and the odd distressed artist, as though I was heading for a day in the office. My rock, as I now think of it, is below the footpath by some 20 feet, so I’m hidden from passersby. I can occasionally see the shadow of a head on the rocks in front of me, but that’s the limit of the intrusion.

Every year about this time I sit on this very rock and write, in a notebook remarkably similar to this one, a list. I’m very much a list enthusiast, I write lists for every activity and every possible occasion. There are the usual work related to-do lists, lists for the supermarket and the DIY store, lists of things I need to do around the house and in the garden. This particular list though is not one of those, mundane workaday lists. This list is the big one. ‘The List’ with capital letters. It’s the list I suspect we all draw up whether we actually commit it to paper or not. It’s the list of changes I’m going to make to my life once I return home from holiday; the list of things that are going to be different; this list is a statement, it says "I’m no longer the old me I’m going to return home a new man and start afresh".

The disheartening thing about my list is that it has been virtually the same for as long as I can remember, yes, the details change but fundamentally it’s the same.

There may be a contingent amongst you, dear readers, who at this point is thinking “here’s a man who’s recently passed his half-century, although he doesn’t look it”. Nice of you to say. “Surely if you’ve not done it, whatever it is, by now then maybe you’re not going to?” A part of my brain accepts that, you may right but I just can’t allow that thought to linger. This year’s list may not be written yet, but it will be, you can be sure of that.