There’s A Hole In My Bucket List
You know those books, ‘101 things you should do before you die’? I never get through them. I get bored halfway. That’s the equivalent of taking a gap year and getting stuck doing bar-work in Australia in Month 4 (so I’m told; I left school on a Friday and started work on the Monday, as we did in the 70s, mugs).
So, a bucket list of places to visit. Every time I try to write it, one of two things happens. 1. The country is dynamited. 2. A good reason emerges for avoiding it, like an earthquake, a civil war, raging fires or a Coldplay tour.
The Great Wall of China – OK, I’ve never been to China, it’s on the list but my brother went and said it wasn’t all that. But where else do you go in such a vast country, and how do you plan it? Majorca’s just so much more manageable.
Which reminds me of the time four of us drove across Iceland and one who shall remain nameless refused to get out of the car to see a gigantic, spectacular waterfall because he’d seen better in New Zealand. At which point I seized him by the collar and yelled. ‘Go and look at it, it’s wonder of nature, you c*nt!’
South America – where the hell do you start? Not Rio, clearly, which Brazilian friends describe as ‘the first city actually made worse by the Olympics’. The English have a horrible holiday habit. Wherever they go, they have to combine their destination with a beach sidebar. ‘Tibet? Does it have a beach?’
Of course a surprising number of bucket-list destinations do have beaches. My pal Rog, whose idea of a fun holiday was taking his wife to the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, will not do beaches as he sweats above 14 degrees. For her first-ever trip out of Sheffield, he took his mother to Siberia. Next year I’m going on a rather unusual trip with him (watch this space).
Bucket list things to do? Parachute jump? Pffft, they’re doing them at 90 so there’s no rush. St Tropez on a private yacht? (done that, long story). Travelling with Bedouin across desert? Done that too – I asked our leader how he kept his thobe so white and he told me ‘Dry cleaners’.
Hmm. What the bucket list is missing is the commonplace everyday unexpected – moments of grace and joy that taken one by surprise. Yesterday I watched as half a dozen old ladies in my local park just started spontaneously singing. I couldn’t stop smiling.
You can’t make a list that covers serendipity.
PS picture at top is from the newly launched Syrian tourist board.