Why your lists might stop you going places.

One small step… in high heels.

There has always been much debate about man going to the moon. To my mind, there is no issue. It’s hardly rocket science. Well, some of it is, but overall, it’s not as if it’s difficult. It’s just a quarter of a million miles in a straight line. David Attenborough would do more than that filming a natural history series for the BBC, and his route would zigzag all over the place to do it. No. The issue in question is that it was a man, not a woman.

The reason is quite simple. It’s nothing to do with sexism, makeup mirrors in the lunar module or the toilet arrangements. It’s all to do with the checklists.

Before a Saturn V rocket could get off the ground, it was subjected to a checklist more thorough than Rachel polishing the underside of the sofa. It had to be. People’s lives depended on it. You can’t afford to get halfway to the moon and realise you have left the sandwiches in the fridge (something I regularly do with my lunch for work).

Each one of these checklists would have been thought out, discussed and tested numerous times, long before the astronauts got into their space suits. And it’s not just astronauts who need to put in months of preparation to ensure they take all the necessary equipment and suitable clothing.

Why your lists might stop you going places

Commencing housework, engines on.

I have recently returned from a week in Cornwall. Not quite a pioneering journey to a celestial body, but it might as well have been.

Rachel and I both have packing lists. I need one because without it I would turn up wherever I was going with a phone charger, a camera and no underpants. Rachel has a much longer list which she uses as an aid to prompt discussion.

“What clothes will I need?” She asks as if I can predict the weather. Into the suitcase goes: flip-flops in case it’s hot; hat, scarf and coat in case it’s cold; and wellies in case it rains. Fortunately, Rachel is not one of those women who goes shopping for an entirely new wardrobe to take away. Just as well, or we would need a bigger car.
Not that it matters, because even if she packs every item of clothing she possesses, you can guarantee that whatever the weather and whatever she has chosen to wear on a particular day, as soon as we get out of sight of the car it will be the wrong shoes, boots, coat or whatever.

Two hours of bag stuffing later, we have what looks like two inflatable dinghies sat on the end of the bed.



Bags packed. Ready?

No. First, we need to check the curtains. But, do we leave them open or closed?
If they are left closed during the day it is a sign to burglars that no one is home.
If they are left open at night, this is also a sign that no one is home.
This is why all the curtains in the house are left open, but pulled slightly closed. The internationally recognised signal that the occupants are away for several nights.



Nearly ready. All that remains to be done is to unplug every appliance that is happily left plugged in and switched on for every other day of the year without giving them a second thought. Apparently, the toothbrush charger, toaster and tv are prone to cause flooding and subsidence as soon as they realise the house is empty.


Sorted. Are we off now?

Not quite.

Vacuum through the house, switch off the alarm clocks and change the phone message.



I am convinced that if the space programme were a woman based project, they would still be working their way through the pre-flight routine for Apollo 11 now.
One small step for man… one giant leap, double check, quick flick round with the vacuum and a last wee before we go, for womankind.
There is no question that lists are indispensable for efficiency, and I am sure that our holiday ran smoothly because of the attention to detail in the list, but I do sometimes feel the process could be a tiny bit more streamlined.




3… 2… 1… ignition.

The mission to St Ives is all systems go, we have lift off.


“Houston, we have a problem…”

“I think I forgot to plump the cushions before we left.”





Are you a list user, or do you just wing it?

Why not leave a comment below and let’s see if they are an aid, a necessity or a pain in the proverbial.