The ‘bucket list’ is something of a new thing with me, I certainly never came across the phrase in my youth, and some suggest it is a phenomenon linked to the 2007 movie of the same name. In its purest form it is a list made by someone who knows they are going to die soon and it is a last minute dash to achieve things of note or long held desire before it is too late. Although more commonly of recent times these lists are being made by those who don’t even know Death’s address let alone being anywhere near his door. Basically, to my mind, this new fashion is nothing more than an old fashioned ‘to do’ list with the added gravitas of having a literal termination date, however far away that may seem. Social media has bought into the concept quite heavily with people sharing their bucket lists and others making suggestions as to what needs to be on your bucket list to make it unarguably awesome.
Swimming with dolphins, climbing K2, competing in Iron Man, sky-diving, taking 10,000 selfies, all of these and many more appear on bucket lists as people try to add value to their lives before the final fire curtain drops on their stage. That’s all well and good…actually that’s not what I’m thinking, I find it another annoying foible of the world that makes me want to give Dignitas a call to see if they do home visits.
When I was younger a bucket list would have meant you needed to go to the shop to buy several designs of bucket to transport liquid from one place to another; though you never bought a bucket off anyone called Liza as it would have a hole in it and lead to an endless to and fro regarding the problems of how to fix it. Any claims to what great things we were going to achieve would be verbal in form and generally planned to be acted upon way in advance of our demise. “Tomorrow I’m going to town to get completely hammered and pull a bird or two.” Obviously not all the elements of our plans came to fruition, maybe at best a 33% success rate in the example given.
Whether a sizeable portion of the youth of today are actively partaking in making bucket lists I have no idea as I am pretty much as far away from young as you can get without curling up in a snug-fitting, silk lined, oak box. What I do know, to my surprise and annoyance, is that some of my peers are making bucket lists but more of that in a moment.
Another thing that pisses me off about bucket lists, apart from their mere existence, is the generic shit on them. Swimming with dolphins; why for fuck’s sake? What is so good about getting inappropriately touched up by a randy sea mammal’s knob? (Look it up, there have even been beaches closed because of horny dolphins endangering bathers’ lives with their sexual advances. Was ‘Flipper’ a stage name; was he legally known as ‘Shagger’?) Splashing about with dolphins is not that exciting or edgy unless you’re a pilchard but if you’ve got swimming with hungry piranha* on your itinerary then I’m the bloke to film it.
Climbing a mountain, one of the big ones of course, that doesn’t look like fun but it does sound like the kind of thing you could wring tears of tedium out of people in a social environment. “Oh yah, Everest is so cool, it’s like the roof of the world. When I was like at the summit the fourteen Sherpas carrying my stuff said like I did it the best like way ever. It was like all spiritual and stuff, like I could have reached out and like tickled God’s chin. I’m just so glad I did it before I like died.” Fuck off. If you do it naked, walking backwards and using a mirror to view the treacherous route then I’ll let you tick it off your list and bore the tits off me talking about how you lost your left buttock to frostbite and the Sherpas played Frisbee with it.
Skydiving. The point being? Is it that you are proving your trust in humanity by assuming the dude who packed the chute on your back did it correctly? I mean, stepping (or being pushed, screaming) out of a plane, usually strapped to another person for newbies, that’s a complete loss of control isn’t it? Once you’re out and dropping there’s fuck all you can do to get yourself back into the plane and if the chute doesn’t open I don’t think tuck and roll is going to stop your spine exiting your skull and arse simultaneously while the rest of you is scattered across three counties. If you really want to feel a total loss of control ingest four packets of senna pods, cable tie your shirt to your trousers and superglue your left hand to a lamppost. Cheaper than parachuting, funnier for the rest of us and you can also do it for charity too if you like.
Talking of the cost of parachuting, partaking in the hedonistic adventures on your bucket list will cost you a fortune. I’m pretty sure the 43 bus route does not include the Tibet/Nepal border and I’m even surer you’re well out of the area covered by your free travel pass if you are of that age and eligible. Price up that expedition to cycle your way around the Nazca Lines in Peru, if it comes in under ten grand I’ll kick a silverback in the nuts. The ever popular swimming with dolphins will cost £3.2 million per hour, according to some quick research and costings, whereas paddling with sticklebacks can be done pretty much for free in any local pond or stream. Unless you’re holding down a top shelf job or you’ve retired with some gilt-edged pension, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over your head are going to be arduous enough without adding international travel and tailor-made experiences to the mix. Because of this often overlooked financial factor I demand that any suggested items for inclusion on a bucket list posted on the internet should come with itemised costings as I warrant abseiling down Niagara Falls will not seem so appealing once you see the outlay required for catching pneumonia and having you nuts shredded by razor-sharp rocks.
Now you are getting a feeling of where I stand on bucket lists lets go back to the congregation of barely animated dust that is myself and my mates. A couple of them have made bucket lists, I’ve seen them, and they are filled with all the usual exotic stuff but what makes me slightly dubious that few, if any, will be completed is the fact that degeneration on a cellular level is likely to hinder progress down the lists somewhat. Between me and my mates we might be able to knock together three quarters of a working human body if we used the few good parts we possess as a collective; I think the accepted medical terms is that we are anatomically fucked-up. There is not one limb or organ that is not failing or completely knackered amongst our number; I myself can count my right shoulder, my lower back, my left foot (not the film) and my failing eyesight and hearing…and I’m one of the younger ones, imagine how fucked the older fossils in my circle are. These decrepit dinosaurs have things on their lists like kite-surfing for fuck’s sake; if their arms weren’t ripped off from the first breeze there is a good chance they would be dragged out to sea never to be seen again…which is beneficial for one of the deluded fools as he wants to swim The Channel. Nutter. It’s truly ridiculous to witness people planning a month long trip to cross the Gobi Desert on a camel when they have trouble chewing trifle without cracking a tooth. These old farts should be aiming at things like making sure they take the right medication at the right time or not pissing on the cat as they stagger to the toilet for the tenth time that night.
If you really have to, the best time you can make a bucket list is near the beginning of your life (no guarantees your life will last long enough of course, cage fighting tigers could shorten it to a great extent for example) when you are devoid of responsibilities and pressures and can do what the feck you like to a greater extent with both your time and your money. In addition to that freedom from social shackles the absolute best type of young person to be, to increase your chances of completing a half-decent bucket list, is a rich one; a filthy, sticking rich one. That news hampers about 99% of the world’s population from the outset, some of whom haven’t even got a real bucket to piss in let alone a fantasy one stuffed full of first world luxury goodies.
It’s time to be realistic, people, drop a match into the bucket holding that list of delusional fancy and free yourself from the pressure….is what I’d like to say but I know I can’t stop you having bucket lists full of marvellous desires, so go ahead and tick them off to your heart’s content. What I am asking, extremely fucking politely I have to add, is that you keep your list to yourself and don’t trouble me with stories of how you meditated with the Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterflies in the rainforests of New Guinea. You think it was ‘so cool’ but I really don’t give a toss; it’s not my dream it’s yours, so keep it secreted away in your head where all dreams should stay. Got it?
As I write this on Tuesday night I find, hypocritically, I do have a bucket list of sorts. It’s cheap, set at a fairly realistic achievement level and hopefully I have enough physical well-being to see it through. ‘Wake up Wednesday morning not dead…and try to stay that way all day.’
*I have been challenged regarding the veracity of piranha eating people. My defence is they did on the Tarzan TV series with Ron Ely and that’s good enough to be empirical proof that they do for me. However, please feel free to prove me wrong I shall be waiting with my camera.