Thursday, 23 July 2015

WOMAD and bucket lists

There are bucket lists and then there are reverse bucket lists.

Bucket lists contain the things one feels one really ought to do at least once before kicking the bucket. I’ve never been on a helicopter ride, or visited the Taj Mahal, or seen the Northern Lights. They’re all things I’d like to do before I get my visit from the grim reaper (even if he turns out to be rather a sympathetic character, as in the Terry Pratchett view).

On the other hand, I’ve also never visited a firing range or the state of Israel. The first of these I feel no desire whatever to do, the second is one of those things I don’t contemplate with any enthusiasm for the present or the future, but would quite like to have done in the past: I’d like to have already been to Israel, to know a little more about what it’s really like, but as far as any future plans are concerned, it’s probably pretty much at the bottom of my list of places to visit, outside war zones.

Really. Below Minsk, say, or even Pittsburgh. 

I’d actually quite like to go to those places, if only because my grandfather’s family came from Minsk, and Pittsburgh includes the place that was once known as the ‘Forks of the Ohio’ – George Washington was there, as a Militia officer supporting British military operations, and it still feels ironic to me that Washington once served under, rather than against, British colours.

The Forks of the Ohio.
Less built up in the time of loyal British subject, George Washington
Another thing I’ve never done is ever visit a theme park. I say that without pride, though with relief. I gave up going to amusement parks when I realised, aged 22, that rides I’d loved as a child simply made me sick as an adult – anything, in particular, that spun round and round. As for a ride that takes you to the edge of a death-defying fall and then plunges down, my vertigo leaves me regarding the experience as to be avoided at any cost. A source of pleasure? I’m not that masochistic.

That does leave me feeling guilty towards my poor, long-suffering wife. She was once deeply familiar with more or less every theme park from South West Germany (Europa Park) and North West England (Alton Towers), enduring in particular several visits to Disneyland Paris and the nearby Parc Asterix. Somehow I was always unavoidably elsewhere when any of these trips occurred.

My only grandchild to date has now reached an age where she doesn’t need her grandfather to accompany her to one of those ghastly places. Since my other two sons are proving slow at producing any further grandchildren for us, I expect to be able to plead age and infirmity by the time it comes to taking any of them if, indeed, any of them ever show up.

So visiting theme parks remains firmly on my reverse bucket list: things not to do this side of the grave. I’m making no dispositions for what may happen on the other side. I suspect, given the life I’ve led, that I might find myself condemned to an eternal theme park anyway.

But tomorrow an important box gets ticked off one or other of the lists. I’m still not sure which. Certainly, it wasn’t something I felt inclined to do – otherwise I might already have done it – but nor am I averse to doing it. Either way, it happens tomorrow.

I shall be off to my first ever music festival.

Gets ticked off a list tomorrow
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance, I’m told), near Malmesbury in Wiltshire. Danielle and I are going and meeting a bunch of friends there. I expect it’ll be fine, though probably not in the meteorological sense of fine: heavy rain’s forecast. But I understand that mud is part of the experience, so thats probably appropriate.

Anyway, at least I’ll be able to tick it off the list. And by the time I get home, I’ll no doubt have decided which list it belonged to.

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