My non-bucket list
Fancy a bungee jump before you die? Or a Bulgarian film festival? David Jenkins is delighted at all the things that he will never have to do
When I turned sixty, I picked up my Freedom Pass from the Post Office with glee – until I looked closely at the receipt and saw the words ‘TYPE: ELDERLY’.
Huh, I thought, not me: sixty is the new fifteen and that jazz. But now I’ve turned seventy, and there’s no denying it. If I saw my name in the paper, with ‘seventy’ after it, I’d know that I was old.
But there is an upside to this. I can now openly stick to my negative bucket list.
For a bucket list, you usually need to have a terminal illness that nonetheless allows you to race around the globe, bungee jumping down the Grand Canyon, and finding meaning in eating, praying and loving.
And so you achieve all that you ever dreamt of doing, and bring the ‘narrative’ of your ‘journey’ to a soppy, sentimental end.
Forget all that: the negative bucket list assumes you’ve time to go round the world, but not enough time to waste on stuff you never really wanted to do. As Shirley Conran once said, ‘Life is too short to stuff a mushroom.’
There’s no need, for instance, any longer to pretend that I would like to go to the Venice Biennale and fight my way through squadrons of black-clad art folk to gaze at conceptual art.
And I’ve got absolutely no need, or desire, to do any of the below on my Negative Bucket List.
No need to...
Head to Norway for foraged food or Catalonia to feast on foam. What’s wrong with oysters, steak tartare and an île flottante at the Brasserie Terminus Nord in Paris? Try to learn Esperanto. Make yet another stab at The Pickwick Papers or whole rafts of Dickens’s deeply unfunny stereotypes.
Contemplate the mysteries of kale or acai or any other trumpeted superfood.
Ride a camel with the Tuareg across the Sahara desert.
NOT regularly re-read the ‘Gussie Fink-nottle presenting the prizes at the Market Snodsbury grammar school’ chapter in P G Wodehouse’s Right Ho, Jeeves. Ever wear fancy dress again. Ever wear black tie again. Ever wear anything other than navy blue. Visit every church in Rome. Feel that I must, must, must one day visit Harrods, an experience I’ve managed thus far to avoid. Feel that I’ve got to conquer Broadway. Holiday in a cold climate again. Once more to watch T20 cricket, let alone the hundred-ball version.
Salute the sun or down my dog at Bikram Yoga.
Ever again to watch a Marvel Comicinspired blockbuster movie.
Feel you must attend that festival of Bulgarian film at the BFI.
Pretend you yearn to eat in the latest Shoreditch pop-up restaurant.
Try to raise llamas, goats or chickens. Appreciate Australian Rules Football. Ever to go on a narrowboat holiday again.
Go and photograph the penguins in South Georgia.
Sit through a Stockhausen season at the Barbican. Listen to grime, drill or Taylor Swift. Ever again to attend a mime show at the Edinburgh Fringe. NOT read more detective stories. NOT search out Eagle annuals from the 1950s. Think graphic novels achingly hip. Pretend that the Eurovision Song Contest is the sine qua non of camp.
Do anything more demanding than the Guardian’s Quick Crossword.
Go to Frieze, Art Basel or the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party.
Pretend that eating fish ’n’ chips on a pebbly Suffolk beach is anything other than hell.
Read Althusser and Lacan in the original.
Contemplate the twelve-day walk from St Bees to Robin Hood’s Bay.
Buy anything other than a chaise longue, the collected works of Evelyn Waugh, and box after box of Belgian chocolates.
Spend six months in an ashram in Rishikesh. Swim the Hellespont. Go potholing in Derbyshire. Have a ‘really fun’ night out at a karaoke bar.
Strip naked for one of Spencer Tunick’s group photos of nudes – or for a ‘brave’ Wi/royal British Legion calendar. Join a choir. Even to think of doing an Iron Man triathlon. Keep rats because it’s amusing. Ever again to buy quinoa.
And no need, indeed, to do anything other than what I want, when I want, in my own sweet time.