The Un-Bucket List (Abridged)


Posted by in November's Magazine

You can stick your dolphins; Colin Montgomery would rather be a perfectly evolved killing machine

Death is, like lies from Boris Johnson, inevitable. But expecting too much from the bit before it can backfire. 

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Let me begin again. With another beginning. 

The aforesaid bleak one at the top of this page with its idle talk of death and not getting your hopes up – I don’t actually mean it that way. When death comes, I won’t be fronting it up, ready to wrestle with the reaper. Not even a Bergmanian chess game for me. Not even some cosmic Ker Plunk to see me off. Nope, I’d like to be lying down. Perhaps with the smell of cola cubes, a last puff of a rough shag and a bit of whispery ASMR chat as accompaniment. Death can do the heavy lifting. The arsehole. 

Mr Montgomery’s alter ego a Great White

These are of course highly affected words. But behind the achingly studied prose lurks a kernel of realisation. And lo and behold it was a recent funereal moment that sparked it. It would be less than decorous for me to divulge the details; let’s just say that it was the death of someone very close to someone very close to me. The family all knew it was coming. And they handled it extremely well. But standing there at the graveside does bring a degree of clarity.

The collections of atoms we refer to as human beings are often moved to consider their mortality by proximity to its end – with all of the attendant rituals, symbolism and conventions. In this case, there was a distinct lack of convention; it was a very personal end indeed. And that, in a strange way was very inspiring. Though not in the way you’d expect. It didn’t have me thinking, ‘God I should swim with dolphins or grow a herb garden or give my hair to a rabbit sanctuary’. Nahhhh. 

No, quite the opposite actually. Instead, this moving moment sort of reminded me of all the things I don’t want to do before I die. The things I can safely say I would be delighted not to have achieved before I go and sing with the celestial choir/scream in agony with the satanic hordes/the lights go out/I come back as a manatee/haunt the absolute fuck out of a roundabout in East Kilbride. (I think that’s all the bases covered there.) Yep, it was a joy to start ticking off the shit I wouldn’t feel the pressure to do before I shuffled off forever.

After all, you can sift the Facebook for weeks seeing people ‘doing stuff’. Most of the time, I get riled by some bullshit political revelation in The Guardian and can barely contain my anger; then later, after a few road rage incidents, you realise how foolish it is to expect decency, honour, morality or any other human attribute from a cabal of sociopathic gangsters in No.10; it’s just a procedural version of Goodfellas right now, but with more overt racism, backstabbing and all round everyday shitehousery. 

Horses I give you are, unlike dolphins, definitely not arseholes. But I wouldn’t get on one; I don’t have the arse cheeks for it

That’s not to say I’d write off ‘doing stuff’ completely. I couldn’t stand the bedsores of a retreat to the chaise longue in perpetuity. Plus, to even remotely resemble that bell-end Rees-Mogg would be an affront to my own reflection. No, I’ll still do stuff. Like breathe. Maybe drink. And, as my partner rightly reminds me, I do need to get off my arse a bit more to whip a hoover round from time to time. But for now, let’s stick to my Un-Bucket List. Here’s some of the shit I never want to do before I die.  

Swim with dolphins – too wet. Plus dolphins are show-offs. Fucking tricks and stuff, I mean come on, have some dignity. I prefer sharks. Perfectly evolved killing machines. 

See the pyramids – I never got the whole ‘let’s look at some triangular masonry’ thing. There are pyramids by the M8 anyway. Not as hot. And you won’t have the shits for weeks.

Run a marathon – too long by oh… 26 miles or so. If I could participate in fancy dress I might do it. If that fancy dress was me dressed as a passenger in a taxi. An actual taxi. Then, yes.

Take up meditation – it works for some. But I doubt it would make a difference to me. I would be but a chanting Cnut against the rolling waves of anger. Medicate? Yes. Meditate? No. 

Learn to ride a horse – horses I give you are, unlike dolphins, definitely not arseholes. I would bet on one. But I wouldn’t get on one. Plus, I don’t think I have the arse cheeks for it.

Join an illicit street gang in El Salvador – this one feels quite obvious. I mean, the whole tattoo, defiled in prison and forced to sell drugs thing is tempting… but maybe not.

Become King of the Badgers – I was genuinely in two minds about this one. I could picture myself leading a counter-revolution against the failed bovine TB cull. Again, no.

Vote Conservative – ha ha ha… of course not, just my little joke. For to do so in the face of the evidence/charge sheet that grows more ridiculous by the day would be a crime.

Have a nice life, folks.


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