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My List Of Things To Do


I’ve always wanted to make the most of my time on earth. From an early age I’ve dreamed of traveling the world, meeting all sorts of interesting people, trying all kinds of exciting sports and pass-times, and generally gaining great material for my memoirs. I’ve done pretty well so far…

I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the best parts of Scotland. I’ve hiked all over the country taking in some of the most beautiful scenery that it has to offer. I’ve watched sunrises from the top of mountains, watched herds of wild deer running into the distance, seen the Northern Lights, walked along the streets of Edinburgh on a beautiful sunny day and loads of other things too numerous to mention here (wait for my memoirs). I’ve even been to Plockton, where the quaint television series “Hamish Macbeth” was filmed (palm trees in Scotland, you have to see it to believe it).


I’ve tried my hand at quite a lot of sports from the dull (years of hardcore swimming – it always amazed me at University how many competitive swimmers were accountancy students), to the extreme (like snowboarding, mountain biking, triathlon and climbing). I’ve always had the attitude that I’ll try almost anything once, and I’ll tend to stick with the things I enjoy.

The Magpie: renowned for gathering shiny bits of kit and hoarding them in its nestThe part of Scotland I’m from never had any Magpies (the black and white bird with the dark green tail, see left). Whenever I went somewhere else, I’d notice that they had Magpies, but on returning home, they’d just be a memory. I don’t know why, but their absence was always in the back of my mind. I dreamed of one day living in a place that had Magpies. And guess what? Yorkshire has a large population of Magpies. Mission accomplished. I will admit though that they’re not the most exciting creatures on earth.

I went through a stage of dyeing my hair blonde to see what it was like. At the time it seemed like a good idea, but looking back I can’t really see the point (although it was worth it to walk up to my friends, say hi, and them not even recognise me). I was going to put a picture on but I think my ISP would force me to remove it for being so uncool.

I always wanted a quick car. I bought a Mark 2 Golf Gti. It was red, fast, fun to drive, and was another dream come true. Sadly, however, it soon turned into a nightmare. The repair bill was ludicrous. It needed a complete engine rebuild, would overheat and burst water hoses if sat in a traffic jam for more than a few minutes and broke down on me so often that I very quickly lost count (in fact, I still to this day find myself saying  things like “I broke down in that village” or, “I remember being towed through there”). So quite quickly I dreamed of having a more modern, reliable car. With the purchase of my next car (only 2 years old at the time) I achieved that goal. I still look at the water temperature needle from time to time and have scary flashbacks.

Anyway, I’ve still got plenty of large things still to do, such as (in no particular order):

  • Go sky diving
  • Travel around the world
  • Go scuba diving in the Maldives
  • Score a perfect game in ten-pin bowling
  • Traverse the entire Cuillin Ridge on the Isle of Skye

However, in all honesty, if I spend my life and don’t get all these things done, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I have enough fun and am doing enough interesting things in the meantime.

And onto the purpose of this article, to vent my spleen about my complete inability to get my hands on some pretty trivial, but specific items. I know that possessions are fleeting so I don’t get too worked up about them, but there are just a few things that I have been so unable to find that they’ve driven me to distraction (well almost). And I thought I might feel cleansed if I wrote them down and faced my demons. Here goes:

1. A t-shirt with the number ‘1’ on it.

Sounds simple enough. I’m not particularly bothered by my appearance as long as I look reasonably tidy and therefore don’t offend anybody. I noticed a lot of people had t-shirts with various things written on them and thought that it would be quite neat to have one with the number ‘1’ on it. Until I actually tried to buy one I wasn’t that interested really, but can I find one anywhere on earth? Can I hell. For the past couple of years, every place I go to, I try and find a shop that sells one, all with no success. I’ve found ones with ‘2’ or even ’31’ on them, but it’s just not what I’m looking for. So that’s on my list.

2. “Maximum High” by Shed Seven on CD.

I got a copy of this album when it first came out on tape. It’s a class album and was, in my opinion, written when the band were at their peak. Not only that, but it reminds me of the fun things I was doing with my time when it came out… Aaah. Anyway, go to Amazon and try to find it and you’ll fail. Look in any record shop that I’ve been to in the UK (such as Virgin or HMV) and likewise you’ll fail. Well, I always do.

3. 120 minute audio tapes.

Most people copy CDs onto 60 or 90 minute tapes to listen to in the car (unless they’re clever and have a CD player in their car). In my experience, your average album is around 50 minutes long. This means recording it onto a 60 minute tape and juggling the order so that a song doesn’t slip between sides, or a 90 minute tape with part of another album (or a very long, quiet bit). You can get clever and record the longest side of the tape, cut the excess tape out, rejoin it to the spool, record the other side and minimise any blank spots. But I once got a couple of 120 minute tapes as part of a promotion and they solve all my problems. You can put that entire ‘average’ album onto one side, and another ‘average’ one on the other. Great. But you guessed it, I can’t find them for sale anywhere else. I ask a sales assistant and they’ll swear blind that 120 minute tapes don’t exist and they couldn’t as they wouldn’t fit in the cassette…

4. The ability to cut a sandwich into two equal halves without using a ruler.

Okay, this one is a bit strange. Whenever I’ve made a sandwich (something I do quite regularly), I then cut it in half with a knife. This makes it easier and less messy to eat. Most people do this. My problem is that while I’m cutting the sandwich in half, everything looks fine. But as soon as I’ve finished cutting I notice that actually it’s completely lop-sided and one half is about twice the size of the other. This happens every time! You might suggest I cut from corner to corner, but sandwiches just don’t taste as nice when cut that way (well mine don’t).

5. Mirinda orange drink and snapple in the UK.

A bottle of Mirinda

After living for many years in the UK (my entire life to be precise) I’ve grown sick of the soft drinks here (except Irn-Bru of course). When I first went to America I happened to chance upon the afore-mentioned drinks and I rather liked them. Upon my return to the UK I quickly realised that mirinda is impossible to find, whereas I can only find one or two flavours of snapple (neither of which are particularly appealing). Maybe I should just move to the US instead…

6. Mr. Impossible.

The Mr. Men books are children’s books written by Roger Hargreaves. I remember reading them when I was a kid and they were fun and captured my imagination. The only one that sticks in my memory is the afore-mentioned “Mr. Impossible” which seemed so surreal that it appealed to my sense of humour even then. So when I saw a display with the books in a shop I thought I’d buy it for old time’s sake. And surprise, surprise, I couldn’t find it. Every time I see them on display I look but every one is there except the one I want.

7. Square glasses (tumblers).

The film Blade Runner was ahead of its time. There is a scene where the lead role is in his swanky flat drinking whisky (or something like that), and he drinks out of square tumblers. I thought they looked pretty cool and decided to buy a set. Need I even mention that they’re impossible to find?

Well, there you go. By no means a definitive list, but just a few things that spring to mind. If you have any sensible suggestions as to how I might make my life more complete and get any of the items above within my possession, then just drop me a line.

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

3 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Do you by chance happen to know where to get any of the square tumblers from – prefereably online (I’m in New Zealand and the selection isn’t the greatest)

    Many thanks


  2. Amazingly I actually spotted a set of square tumblers when I was in New Zealand a few years ago. They were in a mall in Christchurch (I can’t remember which ones I’m afraid) in a shop that also sold Temuka Pottery crockery. That’s the only place I’ve ever seen the things and it was a bit too much trouble to bring them back to the UK!


  3. Scotland is a stunning place – my wife and I travelled from Edinburgh to Inverness where we stayed at Castle Stuart – an amazing experience.

    I to would love to scuba dive in the Maldives one day but you can keep the sky diving to yourself 🙂


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