Damien on… Bucket Lists
I can find no references on the Interweb to “bucket list” beyond the 2007 movie of that name, but the phenomenon has grown to epic proportions of late. Just this weekend, another venerable thrillseeker went out in a blaze of glory (quite literally) strapped to the top of a biplane which – if the footage is anything to go by – appears to have suffered a failure of one of its control lines.
However, the story does not mention the age of the PILOT who went out WITH her.
Anyhay, this new idiom is defined as “a list of things to do before you kick the bucket” – which description contains ANOTHER phrase (kick the bucket) that has already been dealt with in these columns (and I can tell you it has nowt to do with behandled containers for liquids).
And while these lists often contain peaceful pursuits like a balmy cruise down the Nile, they increasingly include assorted dangerous practices like bungee jumping and bull-running – and this latest incident is by no means the only one that ended in disaster.
The whole thing seems to be associated with MY group – the Baby Boomers. Aged between fifty and eighty (TRUE Boomers SHOULD be in the BACK HALF of that age range, but some articles on the subject include people born up to ’63) we are apparently intent on living life to the full – or die trying.
Well, not ME, my friend. As far as I am concerned, getting up from a chair quickly is about as exhilarating as I wish to get.
Then again, I have already ACHIEVED most of the things any bucket list could come up with. I have done physical, reckless and outlandish things all of my life. Some of the more REPEATABLE ones are listed in a piece I buried, way down this very column. They are as follows…
“I have made love with over one hundred women – and dallied with a couple of men. Their ages ranged from good-morning-judge to pass-the-formaldehyde and they hailed from every continent on the planet – except North America and Antarctica. The quantity, quality and variety of my sex-life would have made Casanova wet himself.
“I have traveled all over Britain, Europe and the Far East (the New World has managed to EVADE my voyages of discovery – and now, will probably continue to do so).
“I have been to the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Funkturm Berlin, the GPO Tower (as it was then) and the Eiffel Tower – I like to get high.
“I have driven around the F1 circuit at Monte Carlo (the wrong way) through the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, from Marseilles to Pisa on the Old Road – and along the narrow, precipitous coastal route in the Scottish Highlands.
“I have driven every kind of vehicle, from scooters to trucks, in every kind of weather, under every kind of road conditions – including OFF-road.
“I have driven a Suzuki Caribbean over “Samui Everest”.
“I have driven boats and jet-skis.
“I have handbrake-turned a TRUCK on a wet afternoon, in Croydon High Street.
“I have exceeded all of Britain’s speed limits by at LEAST forty miles per hour.
“I have escaped police pursuit TWICE – by out-driving them.
“I have scuba-dived sixty feet below Phi-Phi Island (where they filmed “the Beach”).
“I have para-glided (without being dragged along the beach on my arse).
“I have bested a number of Thai bar-girls at Jenga (they always slaughtered me at all the other bar games).
“I have flown in many aircraft – from a Bell JetRanger III to a Boeing 747-400.
“I have ridden on the footplate of a steam locomotive.
“I have ridden the Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna’s Giant Wheel – as featured in “The Third Man”).
“I have experienced The Big One in Blackpool, The Rotor and The Water Chute at Battersea (now long gone) and The Big Dipper at Felixstowe (likewise).
“I have walked unhurt from a fatal train wreck – six others did NOT.
“I have met many celebrities – Johnny Ray, Kenneth More, John Hurt, Frankie Howerd and Henry Cooper – to name but a few.
“I have met and seen the World’s finest musicians – Buddy Rich, Jimmy Smith, Tony Lee, Chai and many others – play live. I once lit a cigarette for Buddy.
“I have collected and played most of the finest music, comedy and drama ever created.
“I have seen most of the very best that TV has had to offer.
“I have seen pretty much all of the finest movies ever made – some in 70mm, a few in Imax and several in 3D.
“I have seen “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in Cinerama.
“I have seen the uncut Russian version of “War And Peace” – all seven hours, eleven minutes of it.
“I have seen “It’s A Hard Day’s Night” in a packed cinema – in 1964. Even with the sound cranked up to full, I barely HEARD it. So I watched the screaming girls instead – magnificent.
“I have done ALL of “Futurascope”, in Poitiers, France – in one day.
“I have visited Radio Caroline (when it was a SHIP).
“I have done ten minutes at an “open mike” night (I didn’t kill – but I didn’t die on my arse either).
“I have read all of the fictional works of Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey, Donald E. Westlake, Leslie Charteris and Enid Blyton (including the now-banned ones).
“I have read a full set of encyclopædias (a damn waste of TIME – we have WIKI, now).
“I have swum, alone and naked, across a Scottish Loch at six o’ clock in the morning. And I have seen the Sun rise through the mist over it.
“I have communed with stags.
“I have been spelunking – caving, to you.
“I have seen the Sun rise on a New Millennium, seated beneath a palm tree on the beach – with someone I loved.
“I have seen a solar eclipse, several lunar eclipses, a quadruple rainbow and witnessed a shooting star silently explode.
“I have bottle-fed a baby tiger.
“I have handled (in alphabetical order) bats, baby hedgehogs (they are not so prickly) birds, geckos, snails, snakes and squirrels – only earwigs, termites and cockroaches gross me out.
“I have seen a baby gecko battle a giant moth (the moth got away).
“I have eaten everything from (French) snails to (Scottish) venison-burgers.
“I have held my breath underwater for over three minutes, without first hyper-ventilating (and if you think that’s easy – try it).
“I have danced all night to Trance, on a dancers’ ledge, high above the dance-floor on the opening night of a disco (my being forty-eight at the time – the manager gave me a free t-shirt, for my efforts).
“I have attended many Full Moon Parties.
“I have tried my hand at most trades – including driving, sales, servicing and promotion. I worked for six months as a DJ.
“I have passed the entry exam for Mensa and was an active member for nearly a decade.
“I have nailed a Mensan.
“I have fallen in love several times – and am in love right NOW.
“I have married three times (it took me three goes to get it RIGHT) and produced a son – who is a damn good chap.
“I have had many wonderful friends. Although since I retired to the Orient – most are on the other end of THIS medium.
“I have (to date) written and posted around seven hundred of these monographs – some rewritten from my Mensa days – plus a book and several short stories. Currently, they have received over one hundred and twenty thousand hits – about one hundred a day.
“I have uploaded over one thousand, seven hundred pieces onto YouTube and so far, they have received over seventy-five MILLION hits (around one hundred THOUSAND a day).
“I should hit my first hundred million by the end of this year – and in theory, around seven hundred and fifty million by the time I pass.
“I have made a “movie” of my life – only a hundred-odd people have ever seen it in its entirety – but a number of snippets exist among my YouTube uploads.
“I have also restored all of my best pictures and posted them as photosets on that medium.
“My life has been quite a ride and all in all, the quantity of debris left in my wake appears to have been small. While some might have had reason to regret my existence, I humbly believe most were left richer for having known me.”
And despite some decidedly HAIRY moments – and several dodged bullets – I am still here, with all my bits and most of my sanity intact.
Thus these days, I am CONTENT. I do not have to risk dying to feel alive.
At forty-two, I started creative writing – this is an example – but I no longer tire myself with reading.
In amongst the cheap, talent-free dross that TV would foist upon me are examples of great writing. Series, “panel” shows and movies for grown-ups (that manage to filter into the remakes, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, cartoons, no-brain actioners and FX movies that constitute Hollywood’s output today) are all there – if you know where to look.
Thus I enjoy several hours a day of REAL “smart TV” – and movies which are only a year old. And at my time of life, a year FLIES by.
Plus – thanks to a 50″ screen, with 16:9, stereo HD – the quality is better than at most cinemas.
And as for risking dying – the weekly shopping expedition is as close as I care to come. I have RESPONSIBILITIES. Two rescued dogs and two rescued cats – and another stray cat, a squadron of Little Brown Birds and several passing squirrels rely on ME for their survival. Not to mention a wife.
Also, I continue to “service” those 1,700 YouTube uploads. I answer as many of the hundred or so items of fan-mail (okay – feedback) I get every day, as I can.
Whilst still occasionally putting digit to keyboard HERE (over 1,700 words, this one).
So not for ME the need to go jumping off high places – and I have done all the travelling I require. I will be happy just to finish this piece without WordPress’s spell-checker highlighting more than a dozen words. And then a shower…