Make an early start on bucket lists and laugh!

Accrington Observer - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop sean.wood @talk21.com

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

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