I had hoped not to have to think about my Bucket List until it was too late; that momentary pang of disappointment as my life flashes before my eyes glancing up a second before that grand piano pancakes me into the pavement.
Sadly, that was not to be, and so I began thinking about it not too long after my diagnosis.
With the pandemic nonsense I had to make the list fairly straightforward, and I was fortunate that I had already ticked-off one item on it before I had even begun. That was to write a book, and I achieved that with 'No stranger to the P45'. Next, I'll try and write a good one.
I have lived in the beautiful Roman-Georgian City of Bath for almost a quarter of a century. It's something that, now I think of it makes me feel rather old.
I have spent many an hour wandering its streets when they have been quiet and empty - never more so than during the first lockdown - and when they've been busy and bustling with traders and tourists and buskers and students and some of the eighty thousand folk who call the place Home.
Many an hour have I taken to sit at one of the cafes in the Abbey Courtyard and watch the world go by; listening to some of the most incredible buskers the world has to offer and often looking up at the magnificence of Bath Abbey where Edgar, first King of a united England was crowned back in 973AD.
I frequently wondered what the view would be like from the top, but simply never got around to it. I added it to my Bucket List not long after my diagnosis and on October 12, 2021 I climbed the 212 steps to the top.
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Thanks to Francesca, Jessica and Bethany for making it happen.
As it sometimes does, a thought entered my head a short time before I got in touch with Bath Abbey. It pinballed around a bit; pinging and thudding, a crunch here, a squeak there, a crash next to something squishy and probably important.
The thought was about the lack of grandiosity of this particular item on my Bucket List, and for a moment I felt as though I was being decidedly unadventurous.
It wasn't a long moment, for I soon came to my senses and realised that this Bucket List was mine and mine alone. It was and is for me, and for no one else. And I just wanted to share that thought with you.
DAN'S OUTRAGEOUS ONCOLOGICAL ODYSSEY CHARITY SKY PLUMMET
A skydive was inevitable. It had long been in the back of my mind to do 'at some point', but terminal diagnoses tend to put time into perspective. As I recovered from having half a lung lopped-out I thought, 'Fuck it' And booked the jump for 2021 to give a bit of time to raise some funds for charity.
We raised £1500 for Macmillan Cancer Support, and the jump was an incredible experience I would do again in a heartbeat.
You've heard it countless times before, but the 60 second of freefall was just mind-blowing.
I jumped with Go Skydive, an incredible company that spcialises in first time tandem jumps. Their set-up is highly professional, their training and every member of their staff exceptional. If you fancy the idea of falling out of a perfectly good aircraft, Go Skydive are your go-to team.
NO STRANGER TO THE P45
I had recently started a new job. I was White Van Man; hurtling along the M4 at ninety towards my soon-to-be-evicted-from flat, my weekly battle of wits with the Mayor of London’s army of sour-faced parking attendants over for another week. My friend Jon phoned to ask how I was, what was I up to, and now, considering my latest vocation, just how many jobs had I actually ever had?
I wrote No stranger to the P45 between ten and fifteen years ago. I had always wanted to write, and back then it seemed like the right thing to do.
I self-published and sold a few, but then I pretty much forgot about it and as I pick it up today I cringe thinking about some of the most monstrous grammatical horrors ever put to paper.
The book received mostly positive feedback from the few who read it with encouraging remarks such as:
"Hilarious (and) beautifully written.'
'Crazy and bizarre, but very clever.'
'... fabulously funny... '
'If you have ever wondered what it would be like to crash a fairground ride, upset the Russian mob, humiliate yourself before millions of people on national television, cause thousands of pounds' damage to a McDonalds restaurant, be Santa Claus, 'accidentally' commit an armed robbery, be pursued by the paparazzi, buy a crane, get mugged in Paris by a gorilla-penguin, escape an assassination attempt, make weaponised plutonium or be normal... then you're no longer alone.
Welcome to my world.
Welcome to No stranger to the P45.'
The positive feedback was lovely to receive, but the book requires an update, particularly given the many jobs I have had since; now taking the total well past the hundred-mark.
No stranger to the P45 in fact requires a total re-write before it is fit for human consumption, but in light of my condition, I'm not sure whether I will ever manage it now.
Never say never, though. SUBSCRIBE for updates and I'll let you know if I ever do.
Since I could not go to the volcano, the volcano would have to come to me, and that was the inspiration behind my imaginings of lava lakes and our volcanic Earth.
I have continued to produce such imaginings, and enjoy exploring new elements of the natural world.
In late 2020 I began a series describing the human impact on the natural world. Take a look HERE.
The eruption of Cumbre Vieja on the island of La Palma has been particularly exciting. Maybe not for those whose property has been destroyed by the lava flows, or who have been otherwise negatively impacted.
But for me and my Bucket List it presented an incredible opportunity to see our angry planet up close.
Unfortunately, right now I'm on a drug trial at the Royal Marsden and they need me close-by for monitoring. That means I am unable to visit La Palma and see it in person. It's frustrating, but I'd rather be kept alive by this new drug for a bit.
Perhaps a little selfishly, I would hope that Cumbre Vieja continues to be an exciting eruption for some time yet; at least until the conditions are right for me to get on a plane and see the terrifying magnificent beauty of a lava fountain.
I will keep the website updated as we go, but in the meantime, to watch some absolutely stunning drone footage of a volcano, click here, and then please subscribe below.
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