Make an early start on bucket lists and laugh!
LONG before bucket-lists were invented there were certain things I wanted to do with my life, and when hopefully achieved, not to dwell on them but rather like a butterfly, move on to the next flower.
That’s me in a nutshell, you need know no more, and I will spare you too many examples save for one as an illustration.
I had a wildlife column in the Sunday Times, and I was so excited that you could pop into any newsagent the length and breadth of the country and buy a copy. One time I was in County Kerry and an article about Crowden filled half of the back page in the old broadsheetdays, and best of all it had one of my photographs of St James Church. Of course, the ST is sold the world over and I had letters from far and wide including China and the Cayman Islands. The column ran for two years, and I was even offered the chance to go and work for them in London.
Although flattered, I remember sending Andrew Neil a photograph of Bleak House and Longdendale and asked, ‘Why would I leave this?’ He said, ‘Fair enough young man.’
Unlike this column which has been running for more than three decades, my Sunday Times days were soon over, change of Editor and all that, but it was a tick, and a tick is a tick.
And while I’m on the subject of ‘bucket-lists,’ the term was used, perhaps for the first time, in the context of things to do before one ‘kicks the bucket,’ a longer-lived phrase in use since at least 1785 when it appeared in the book, ‘Unfair and Unbalanced’: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky, by Patrick M. Carlisle.’ The term ‘Bucket List’ really came into its own after the 2007 movie ‘The Bucket List’ starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman.
In the movie the two terminally ill men travelled around the world with a wish list of things to see and do before they died.
My advice would be to get out there and do it now, and the younger you begin the better and the more ticks you can accumulate.
My dearly departed friend Oaf used to say when asked what he wanted at the bar, ‘World peace and happiness Woody!’ Roughly translated this meant, so long as his children and family were okay, he was happy, and that everything else was a bonus. Not a bad mantra for life.
Of course he knew that world peace was a long shot but oh my, we sorted a few ticks between us over the past 30-odd years and there were times we were sublimely happy.
And then there’s the laughter we shared, surely number one on any list, and not just to be ticked as a one-off. Me and Oaf laughed so much, and he was funny sometimes without even knowing it.
Regular readers of this column will certainly remember ‘Oaf,’ my erstwhile prop-forward and travelling companion, and will hopefully have chuckled at my reports of our trips across Europe for this column; watching wildlife, playing rugby, singing songs, taking photographs and thoroughly researching the food and drink of each and every nation, from Poland to Spain, and from Ireland to Latvia.
Here’s a favourite ‘Oafism’ of mine from when I talked to him about the farmhouse and converted barn I had hired for my 60th birthday in the Lakes. ‘It’s a treat for 18 friends and my children,’ I said, ‘All you need to do is bring three swans each, so we can dine like Lords.’
Oaf replied, ‘I didn’t know you could still buy swans Woody, can Mettrick’s get them?’. Priceless and a definite tick.
●●Here’s a picture of Sean Wood and pals with Oaf front and centre