Thursday, January 06, 2022

Coming of Age

Some people have a bucket list. I never have written one down although of course there have been things I always wanted to do.  This weekend I shall attain the terrifying age of 75.  Yes, I know, who'd a thought it?  Somehow it seems a more significant milestone than 40 or 50 or 70. I don't think I can any longer claim to be middle aged.  I'm probably technically elderly. Hah! Time to review that non existent bucket list I suppose.

Travel the world?  Total failure on that one.  Switzerland is as far as I ever got - in an ailing old dormobile with a gang of fellow students.  We were aiming for Split in Yugoslavia but the van kept overheating so we turned round at Lake Zurich. We were so scruffy and the van so beaten up that we routinely got pulled over and searched for drugs at border posts.  One guard got very excited at finding a pouch of something in my holdall, until he discovered it was a tea bag.

Having a motor bike?  Many a middle aged man's fancy.  Well I had a little 50cc Honda when I was a student but I don't think that counts. Top speed 50mph downhill. I fell off it several times.

Playing guitar in a band? Many a young or middle aged man's fantasy. Yep done that, although not exactly sex, drugs and rock 'n roll - we played for barn dances. Still we weren't too bad and it was terrific fun and we often got free fish and chips.  One year we did 22 gigs. I think I made about 15 quid a time which just about covered expenses. In the 1990s Kath and I and a friend Alison formed a folk band called Man Sandwich - we were alarmingly good and huge fun until poor Alison died suddenly.  In recent years I have gone electric so I look really cool in our spare room when no one is watching. I'm not Jimi Hendrix but I can play a bit. I even have a Stratocaster copy - bought off Maffi, permanently on the boat.

Having an exotic car?  Well we did have a Citroen Dyane (a sort of 2CV estate) when we were first married.  Exotic enough in my book. 602cc of throbbing power, requiring dropping in to first gear to get up some hills. We loved it to bits.  Not exactly a Ferrari though. Actually I never wanted a fast car or a Rolls Royce. I prefer miles per gallon over miles per hour and our Skoda has a bigger boot than a Ferrari.

Writing a book?  Twice ticked! Not exactly a commercial success but I'm not ashamed of either.

Seeing one's idols at live gigs? Lots there. In my twenties I went to lots.  First ever performance of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac.  Jeff Beck with Rod Stewart, John Mayall (many times), Pink Floyd, The Who (who were dreadful), Cream in a tiny club when they had just formed, James Taylor, Rev Gary Davis (very niche but a real catch) and so many more.  Plus many folky greats like Nic Jones and Martin Carthy lots of times. Sadly I never saw Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell though. 

Owning a boat.  Biggest tick of all.  Lots of people dream about having a boat.  You can see gongoozlers doing just that.  It's great.  Waterways, countryside, city moorings, BBQ's on the bank, industrial heritage, waterside pubs.  What's not to like?  There were doubters when we first decided to buy a boat - "You'll never use it enough" etc.  Well they were wrong. It's one of the best things we ever did and we're still doing it.

I've just set out on my latest bucket list item.  Now that I'm about to be 75 I've started learning piano, well a midi keyboard in truth.  I'm doing it properly, scales and arpeggios and all that stuff.  I don't suppose I've got the time to become the next Liberace, Rick Wakeman or Vladimir Ashkenazy, but I know I'll enjoy trying.

Come back when I'm 80 and see how far I get.


nb Bonjour said...

That's a great list Neil. My first car of my very own was a 2CV (boyfriend had a Dyane, mine was better! but both not your usual car). Did you have picnics where you took the back seat out to sit on because the grass was so wet? Did your friends laugh at you on hills? We look forward to a keyboard youtube, I hope you have got Kath on sourcing the sequins and candelabra!
Top tip in case you decide to replace Herbie with a newer model - get your replacement boat sorted before you sell her!
Happy boating

Herbie Neil said...

Debby, I once took the back seats out of the Dyane to collect a large oak sideboard. The bloke I bought the sideboard from was gobsmacked that it fitted in such a small car.

Carol said...

Happy 75th birthday Neil, time to celebrate!

Vallypee said...

Gosh, two posts in quick succession, Neil. i can’t keep,up! I read your last one yesterday, at least I think it was the last, and yes, I still love reading your blog. This one was great. I enjoyed your list and congratulations on reaching 75. Well done about learning to play the piano. I must get on with my ukulele.

Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...


Cheers, Marilyn