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

The Oldie - - CONTENTS - David Jenk­ins

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.

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