30 Out Of 30 – list announcement.

In October 2014 I was sat in a bar in Madrid airport with my new friend Sam when he asked me for help in putting together his list of the 30 things he wanted to do before he turned 30. He was weeks away from turning 29 and so had to consider what it would possible to do. We worked out he had to complete two and a half items from his list each month to make it through before he turned 30. That was if he didn’t purposely choose things he had already done. I realised if I were to put together a similar list I would have to do it sooner rather than later.

When I got home from one of the most important trips of my life (so far) I started work on constructing a blog to which friends and family could help me put together the list of things to do before I turned 30. I called this blog 30 Out Of 30 which makes sense as becoming the title of the documentary I intend on putting together for it. The hope being, by the time I hit 30 I would indeed have completed 30 out of the 30 things I had planned.
I was however careful to set some rules in place. I wasn’t going to let everyone else have the final decision on what I was going to do. I thought it would assist to have their input but not allow them to have the final say. People could make suggestions but the ultimate list would be my own. It wasn’t to be what everyone had to do before they turned 30 but solely for me. It had to be personable. It had to be achievable. I also wanted variety. There was no point in saying I was going to travel to all seven continents because there is no way I would be able to afford it. That’s a bucket list item. With my intention of living to a ripe old age there is plenty of room to travel further than the places I have listed.
I want to learn things. I want to see things. I want to improve and become better. That’s what I am aiming for with this list.

Here is the list. I’ll update it with completion dates as I work my way through and in all likelihood will need your help.

1. Write a screenplay.
2. Record an album.
3. Run a marathon.
4. Take a photo of myself every day for a year.
5. Write a letter to myself at the age of 60.
6. Explore different religions.
7. Fire a gun.
8. Shave my head.
9. Appear in a film or on TV.
10. Gamble in Las Vegas.
11. Ride a horse.
12. Read War & Peace.
13. Write an autobiography.
14. Research my family genealogy.
15. Make a Baked Alaska.
16. Volunteer.
17. Ride a motorbike.
18. Take a train across India.
19. Watch the sunset behind the Grand Canyon.
20. Camp out under the stars.
21. Go on a cross-country road trip.
22. See the Northern Lights.
23. Learn piano (and be able to play Lou Reed’s Perfect Day).
24. Climb a mountain.
25. Go surfing.
26. Try hang-gliding.
27. Play Cluedo.
28. Drink a Vodka Martini in a posh bar.
29. Go to a drive in movie.
30. Learn conversational Spanish.

Happy 3rd Blogthday

Today is three years since I decided to use WordPress instead of Blogger or any other blogging site. While the first year was committed to what I was doing it has fallen away ever so slightly as we enter the third year. I promise you I have a lot going on and I’m going to do my best to play catchup with myself in the near future. 

Thank you for sticking this out with me. It’s been a trip. 

Why I’m glad to be 28.

For the longest time I wanted to die when I was 27. With just over twenty-four hours to go before I turn 28 I’m glad that’s one particular goal I wasn’t able to achieve. Quite frankly, and please forgive me turning the air blue for a minute, that’s a fucking terrible idea.

Each year my best friend would write the number of years I had left in my birthday card. It was a touchingly morbid joke.

I would spend hours listening to The Doors and wanting to be Jim Morrison.

I would try and work out how it was going to happen.

I was death obsessed. In many ways that actually ended when I experienced death occurring closer to me than ever before. In the space of two years I lost a lot of people who I assumed would be around forever. The loss I felt was enough to turn me off of romanticising death. There’s nothing cool or sexy about it, especially when people are young. Each time I read about death it hurts me, particularly if that person was taken “before their time”. I can’t exclude the possibility there might be a God. Unfortunately it seems the only time you’re ever supposed to find out is when it is too late to report it back to anyone else. I can’t understand what his master plan could be when he decided to take friends away from me. I can’t foresee some kind of incredible explanation for it all. I revert to the proposition which one of the friends I lost tried to ascribe to… “be excellent to each other”. That’s all we can do.

I am now looking forward because there is so much to be done, so much to see and I can’t wait to share it with you.

On not drinking.

This January I went in dry. It hurt a bit but I found that if you just kept working at it, eventually you could get a fairly smooth motion going. That’s enough E L James-esque wordplay, I’m talking about quitting drinking for the month or what is known as Dry January. For the most part the hashtag on Twitter seems to be composed of people confessing to their sins and posting emojis of cocktail glasses. I did it anyway. There are some strange things I have learnt as a result and I would like to share them with you.

1. You know that strange feeling where death is coming at you on a Saturday or Sunday morning well that isn’t there if you didn’t drink on the night before. I have sprung out of bed (aside from the fact it’s freezing in my flat and no amount of layers can keep that off) and been ready to carpe the fucking diem. I feel more focused and more driven. I’m not quite as lazy as I was before and I’m able to think about things much more clearly.

2. People assume you have a problem if you tell them you aren’t drinking or they feel sorry for you. You don’t need to feel sorry for me. I went out on Thursday last week for a reunion with some of the fine people I walked to Machu Picchu with. I was the only person not drinking. Every time I explained it to someone they would say “oh, I’m sorry” as if my dog had died. My dog hasn’t died and I felt pretty swell on Friday when I got up for work. From the conversations I have had since with them, they didn’t. Shortly after I left for my 52 minute commute back home they got on the Jagerbombs which is of course liquid funeral for the next day.

3. I come home from nights out with money because for some reason I was still withdrawing the same amount I would if I was going to be “getting on it”. That money now lasts through the week. It buys me my coffee, because caffeine is one monkey I definitely do not want off my back. It buys me food and stamps and whatever else it is I spend my money on. Not drinking is actually pretty great.

4. I feel a lot healthier as a result of not drinking. I’m also trying to do some kind of exercise regime and I go running twice a week but not being bloated out on beer or staring at my haggard reflection on a weekend morn has done wonders for me. I feel positively nauseating.

5. You realise everyone is very annoying when they are drunk. I worked in a pub for a couple of years. I also worked as a DJ when I was a student, although I tended to be in a worse way than most of the clientele when I was deejaying. I vomited on more than one occasion. Once I pulled the CDJ plug out of the wall in the middle of a song and the whole night fell out of its own arse. Where was I? Oh yes, everyone else, very annoying. It takes them ages to be ready to leave, doing rounds ends up costing you a lot more than getting Cokes on your own would have done and everyone stinks. There is nothing worse than the bleary-eye and Fosters breath approaching you for an intimate chat about what you’re doing so wrong.

6. Tee-totallers are getting dicked on by pubs and bars. At one stage or another we have all had to be the designated driver, unless you don’t drive and then hooray for you, you should be drunk all the time. You should be the Oliver Reed of your friendship group. You may have noticed drinking soft drinks is not actually as cheap as it should be.
I went to The Swan at The Globe the other night with a lovely lady. Neither of us were drinking so we got two lime and sodas. Two lime and sodas cost us £5.00. I’m not being funny but that is a lot of money for two lime and sodas. The pub I worked in – 30p. More effort should be put on making non-alcoholic drinks cheaper. The mark up on draft Coke (I’m calling it that because I can, you know the one I mean, comes out a cranky hose under the bar) is ridiculous.
The other issue of course is you can’t possibly keep up with the rate your friends are putting away their drinks. You try going on a night out and drinking six pints of coke. It’s tough. My friends were doing the equivalent amounts in lager with much less bother than I was.

I don’t think I could ever be entirely free of drinking. I enjoy drinking quite a lot. I’m a writer. It works well with what I do and I like the taste. This little experiment has made me think about how reliant we are on it as a way of dealing with life though. Go without, you’ll probably be surprised.