Saturday, March 14

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu

Lately I've wondered how my childhood traits carried into adult life.

As a kid I was obsessed with lists and statistics. This probably started because my parents are crossword and puzzle fans. I don't do crosswords myself, but I am fascinated in the history of words and language - I have a bookshelf full of references, and love synonyms, homonyms and onomatopoeia etc.

At the top of the staircase in my childhood home, was a set of encyclopedia. I would methodically read them, and was drawn to geography, and the history and development of countries. I was lucky enough to travel as a kid, and today I compulsively track the places I have visited.

Most of my friends know that I am currently 44 for 50 on visiting American states, but fewer know that I kept lists of the London Underground stations I visited and passed through. That was a double treat, because I re-drew the greatest piece of graphic design to track my progress.

I would take vacation days to visit Tube stations, tracking their literal geography to the perceived location on the map. When we lived in London, Anne edited London Underground literature, and made me aware of the large list of disused Tube stations. Oh what nerdish fun plotting the position of those (above ground, you can still see many of the distinctive maroon tiled buildings in various parts of Central London).

In addition I use to track the countries I have visited, and I even have a list of the counties I have passed through in the UK. It's fair to say I love maps and how cities developed. In LA last month I quizzed a guy on his knowledge of driving the city without using the freeways. True Angelenos know how to do this.

Back in London, I once did a pub crawl visiting the locations on a British Monopoly Board, and later dragged Anne around taking photos of each place.

At school I was always the kid who wrote the sports report, my dream assignment was when we took a school trip to watch the visiting Fijian rugby team play. I got to read out the players names.

I'd be doing myself a disservice to suggest that I have made a career out of compiling lists .. but. As a packaging designer, one must rigorously uphold rules. Minimum type sizes, efficient usage of ink, FDA regulated listings of Nutrition Facts, commonality and consistency of elements (which to me defines branding). And guess what? My biggest professional strength is managing the consistency and accuracy of large ranges of products ... which I do through an elaborate set of lists, facts and figures.

There is an OCD component to this, that I try to use to my advantage. From time to time it can be destructive - noticeably when I have too much work to complete. I find it hard to cut corners. I've been called a perfectionist, but not as a compliment!

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu? The cricket stadium that held the first ever Test Match in Sri Lanka.

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