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August 19th 2017
Having run the gamut of my imagination in terms of things I want to achieve before I hit 40 - still, let us not forget, well over eight years away - I asked the world for suggestions. Well, I asked Facebook, as well as a few people who have been in my proximity over the last few weeks, and (with a bit of tinkering) I've got the full list. 40 things to do before 40. And I've even managed to achieve a few of them already.
Arguably I've dragged this concept out a bit too long in the world of social media, but for anyone who's not entirely bored of my sporadic ambitions I expect to be providing pictoral updates from time to time.
So, here are the last ten. And then, in an exciting delving - delvement? No, I'm sticking with delving - into repetition, the whole 40 with commentary is repeated. Golly, how exciting.

31. Go to Wimbledon - the tennis tournament, not just the area of London. This one was suggested by Victoria, who (along with her husband, Dave) could recommend this from personal experience. I'm not a huge tennis fan but I jump on the bandwagon most years.
32. Memorise John 15 - this was suggested by Ian at church, who thought it would be a good idea to have something biblical (and I concur). Chock full of good stuff, John 15 is.
33. Visit every parish church in Bristol & Avon - visiting every Bristol church originally suggested by Jenny, who is familiar with some of my photographic tours (animal names, number 67s etc.), although I made it a bit more specific and therefore achievable. I think there are 112 of them (as opposed to the 208 in the Diocese of Bristol, which is huge).
34. Whittle a spoon - my friend Ben wants to show me how to do this. He cut himself quite badly while teaching some other people, I understand.
35. Hary Potter studio tour - I like Harry Potter, films, and, er, visiting outer London. This tour comes recommended by Kari, who liked it so much she is keen to go again.
36. Visit SS Great Britain - OK, I've been around the outside, and I've even been on the top deck for Steve & Bronwen's wedding, but I've never properly explored it. This one wasn't specifically recommended for this list, but several people have told me good things.
37. Read 75% of the BBC Big Read books - I don't believe in persevering too hard with books that I'm not enjoying, which is why I've gone with 75 of the BBC's 100 most popular books rather than the full list. I'm helped by the fact that I've already read about 35 of them. This one is sort of inspired by Dave, who said I should read all of Proust. I think he was joking.
38. Watch a F1 race in its entirety - into every life some rain must fall. I find F1 incredibly dull, but Andrew suggested this - before I even asked for suggestions - and it could be a revelation. I guess.
39. Host a Christmas BBQ - after Dad retires I'll be able to host family Christmas on occasion, I imagine, and I've thought for some time that a Christmas BBQ would be great fun (not least because I won't have to learn how to cook a turkey). My family might need some persuasion on this point.
40. Read Lord of the Rings in 24 hours - in my sixth form days I made some half-hearted attempts to get some people to do this for charity. Back then I did the calcs and reckoned it would be just about possible, and since I've not read it for about a decade, why not put it back on the table?

So, there you go. All decided. And here's the full list (including all of that stuff again. There must have been a better way to write this post).

1. Get married - let's be honest.
2. Watch Wolves at Wembley - because if we're doing this, let's do this.
3. Watch Stenhousemuir F.C. - at last, an achievable one. Stenny are my Dad's team, for convoluted reasons involving a Subbuteo set, and I'd like to see them live someday. Maybe in his retirement - how about it, Dad?
4. Go to a rugby match - I've seen a few different sports, but never rugby (at least, not professional rugby). I'd like to give it a whirl. This one seems really easy.
5. Stroke a pigeon - somewhere around the age of three, this was my dearest ambition. I'll be honest, as the years have passed I've put less and less effort into it, but maybe now's the time.
6. Get a Listener crossword published - I've been a devoted solver of the Listener crossword for a couple of years, and recently (inspired by talking to setters) I've been putting together a crossword for submission. So hopefully I'll be able to tick this one off within the year. If it doesn't get rejected.
7. Achieve an all-correct year of Listener crosswords - I got 48/52 in my first year, and 43/53 in my second year, so I'm getting worse. But I can turn this around. I almost put my goal to win the prize for the most correct in a row ("Solver Silver Salver") but that might be over-ambitious.
8. Reach the Grand Final of the Times Crossword Championship - I would have made it last year, were it not for 'ichneumon'. So I reckon I can do this.
9. Meet a famous actor/actress - I'm sure I would be incredibly uncool in this scenario. But you never know. The dream scenario is that I tell them how much I loved their performance in an excellent but under-rated film; they then realise that I, unlike the masses, am a true film fan and a firm friendship is established. I'm thinking Felicity Jones / Northanger Abbey, but I'll take Jamie Bell / Nicholas Nickleby if I have to.
10. Karaoke - this is a weird one, because the notion of karaoke kinda horrifies me, and I have routinely rejected to opportunity to take part. But a small part of me thinks that it would be fun. So...
11. Visit Northern Ireland - I'm not a huge traveller but I am a bit of a completist, and since I've been to England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland I feel I should complete the set.
12. Pay off my mortgage - I'm sure this isn't how these lists are supposed to work, and I may have outed myself as the most boring man on the internet. But it would be nice to be mortgage-free. According to the terms of my contract this would be in my mid-forties, but with some judicious over-payments I reckon I can do it by 40.
13. Become confident in how to pronounce 'minutiae' - all those vowels, man.
14. Persuade someone to name their child Colin - how I've tried. So far I have failed in every case. Even if you just count the boys, that's at least 14 attempts missed (Asher, Augustus, Boaz, Charlie, Edward, George, Johnny, Josiah, Montgomery, Nathaniel, Reuben, Samuel, Thomas & Zebedee).
15. See Les Misérables on stage - I loved the film, and listened to the soundtrack from it obsessively for months, but I've not had the true West End experience.
16. Buy a ladder - a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a ladder.
17. See the Eagles live - I've seen two Eagles tribute bands, but I'd love to see the real thing. Unfortunately Glenn Frey passed away last year, so it can't be as good as it might have been, but the rest of them are still touring.
18. Compete on Countdown - Simon did it over a decade ago and acquitted himself well, but if I'm honest I'd be terrified of falling apart under the pressure. Still, what's the worst that could happen?
19. Go back to the Edinburgh festival - I had a great time at the festival last summer, but I'd like to go back again and spend more time there, since we only really had one day.
20. Do an improv course - I came close to signing up for one at the beginning of 2016, but it clashed with joining a drama group so I couldn't do both. Hopefully I'll be able to find another opportunity.
21. Visit Canada - last time I said I wasn't much of a traveller, but I fancy visiting the Great White North. I mean, any country that produces Michael J. Fox and Rachel McAdams must be pretty awesome. Watch this space.
22. See Billy Joel live - I'm not entirely sure the Eagles (number 17 on my list) are actually still touring, but Billy Joel is still going strong. I think. He's written loads of great songs, and I think he'd be good love.
23. Learn how to use chopsticks - it's frankly embarrassing having to ask for a fork whenever I eat Chinese food. Especially that time when I was the only Caucasian in the place.
24. Run in the Bristol 10k - this was definitely in my plans last autumn, the first (and, so far, only) time I ran 10k. Niggling injuries have made me wonder if I'll ever be able to do it again. Maybe?
25. Learn how to poach eggs - Rob and I tried this at Uni. He had a theory that swirling the water round would help push the egg into the centre of the pan. It didn't. It pushed the egg to pieces. My motto was: if at first you don't succeed, just switch back to making omelettes. But I should persevere. (Using an egg poacher is cheating).
26. Learn how to scramble eggs - I really know very little about egg-based cooking.
27. Persuade Simon to give up tea - just for Lent, or something. I'm wearing him down. It's for his own good, you know. If I do everything else on these lists then he'll have to, right?
28. Write a play - I've written a few sketches and performed in a couple of plays. Surely I can combine the two? Well, who knows, but it would be fun to get my teeth stuck into it, and if I get there I'm sure I know some people who would be willing to act it out.
29. Buy curtain tie-backs - if I put it on this list, I might even get round to doing it.
30. Stand for election - technically I've already stood for election as church treasurer (unopposed). I think I'm ready for the wider stage. Any old fool can stand for Bristol mayor, maybe I'll give that a whirl. 31. Go to Wimbledon - the tennis tournament, not just the area of London. This one was suggested by Victoria, who (along with her husband, Dave) could recommend this from personal experience. I'm not a huge tennis fan but I jump on the bandwagon most years.
32. Memorise John 15 - this was suggested by Ian at church, who thought it would be a good idea to have something biblical (and I concur). Chock full of good stuff, John 15 is.
33. Visit every parish church in Bristol & Avon - visiting every Bristol church originally suggested by Jenny, who is familiar with some of my photographic tours (animal names, number 67s etc.), although I made it a bit more specific and therefore achievable. I think there are 112 of them (as opposed to the 208 in the Diocese of Bristol, which is huge).
34. Whittle a spoon - my friend Ben wants to show me how to do this. He cut himself quite badly while teaching some other people, I understand.
35. Hary Potter studio tour - I like Harry Potter, films, and, er, visiting outer London. This tour comes recommended by Kari, who liked it so much she is keen to go again.
36. Visit SS Great Britain - OK, I've been around the outside, and I've even been on the top deck for Steve & Bronwen's wedding, but I've never properly explored it. This one wasn't specifically recommended for this list, but several people have told me good things.
37. Read 75% of the BBC Big Read books - I don't believe in persevering too hard with books that I'm not enjoying, which is why I've gone with 75 of the BBC's 100 most popular books rather than the full list. I'm helped by the fact that I've already read about 35 of them. This one is sort of inspired by Dave, who said I should read all of Proust. I think he was joking.
38. Watch a F1 race in its entirety - into every life some rain must fall. I find F1 incredibly dull, but Andrew suggested this - before I even asked for suggestions - and it could be a revelation. I guess.
39. Host a Christmas BBQ - after Dad retires I'll be able to host family Christmas on occasion, I imagine, and I've thought for some time that a Christmas BBQ would be great fun (not least because I won't have to learn how to cook a turkey). My family might need some persuasion on this point.
40. Read Lord of the Rings in 24 hours - in my sixth form days I made some half-hearted attempts to get some people to do this for charity. Back then I did the calcs and reckoned it would be just about possible, and since I've not read it for about a decade, why not put it back on the table?

what was I listening to?
Just Great Songs - Various Artists
what was I reading?
Number Ten - Sue Townsend
what was I watching?
Trainwreck
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