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Sunday, 27 March 2011

A Real Life Bucket List

This week has been glorious, weather wise. Sunshine, cool breeze, fat white clouds and blue skies. Spring sprang this week and, for me, this changing of the seasons heralds the arrival of a new year more meaningfully than the distant chimes of Big Ben at midnight.

So perhaps this is the time to make some resolutions. And why not think big? Why not go the whole hog and compile the resolutions of a lifetime? The things I want to do before I roll over, turn up my toes and start pushing up daisies.

But why do so many of these so-called "bucket" lists dwell on "dreams" that don't often trouble us on a day to day basis? Do people really wake each day and think "Oh rats! Another day without fulfilling my lifelong dream of swimming with dolphins/going hot air ballooning/baking the world's largest battenberg." I don't. My real life dreams, dreamt on a daily basis, are more likely to be about having a built in barbecue or upper arms like Jennifer Aniston. So, truthfully, the list of things I want to do before I die, goes like this:

1. Make a very great deal of money

2. Win "Strictly Come Dancing"

3. Wake up one morning with neat, finely turned ankles

4. Be interviewed by Michael Parkinson ("Yes, Michael, it's all happened very fast...")

5. Amass a museum quality collection of antique jewellery (may count as a subset of 1.)

6. Wear matching underwear every day

7. Win an Oscar

8. Own a utility room

9. Win the X Factor

10. Become an eminent art historian

11. Go out for dinner in a white silk shirt without spilling anything on it.

Am I reaching for the stars here? I'll let you know.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Boys and Girls and How to be Best Friends

Tonight I will be helping out at the Primary 5, 6 and 7 disco. This involves doling out juice and crisps and generally skulking about waiting for an opportunity to be embarrassing.

I have helped at discos before and it's always highly entertaining, not least because of the opportunity to analyse the behaviours of the different sexes. Girls spend a lot of time talking to each other behind their hands and the boys mostly slide about on their knees.

Men and women, boys and girls. Nature versus nurture. Skipping stones or shell collecting. How many words, how many prayers, how many sleepless nights of tortured thought have been devoted to unpicking the intricacies of the attachment between men and women and how to sustain it?

A few years ago I was lucky enough to witness a brief exchange between some children of my acquaintance which told me everything I needed to know. (Names have been changed to protect the innocents.)

The scene: A holiday cottage. Three families are staying there over Christmas. The children have known each other since they were very small, but see each other rarely. Two girls of about five are seated in companionable silence at the kitchen table, drawing, cutting out etc. Then;

Alice: We are really good friends aren't we Jane?

Jane: Yes Alice. You are my best friend. Are you my best friend?

Alice: Yes Jane. We are very best friends. Best friends in the world.

Jane: Yes. We are such good friends people think we are sisters don't they?

Alice: Yes! We like all the same things and we play together all the time don't we?

Jane. Yes. We do. And that is why we are best friends.

Alice: Yes:

The following day Alice and a little boy, also about five, are sitting at the kitchen table in companionable silence drawing, cutting out etc. Then:

Alice: We are really good friends, arent' we John?

John: Eh?

Alice: We are best friends.

John: leaning away from Alice and looking spooked, "Whaaaaaaat!?!"

Alice: We are best friends. We are like brother and sister.

John: Oh, MAN.

John pushes his chair away and gets down from the table and goes to the sitting room.

Alice: Oh.

A grown-up suggests Alice take some sweets through to John and that they watch "The Incredibles" together.

Five minutes later, John and Alice sit together watching "The Incredibles". They laugh together and occasionally comment on the action. When it is finished John jumps up:

John: Alice, do you want to come upstairs and see my GoGos? I've got MILLIONS.

Alice: Sure.

They head upstairs. John can be heard excitedly telling Alice about his GoGo collection and the special bag he has for them. Alice is laughing.

And there you have it. Putting it into practice is, of course, another matter.