There's only one thing to put on your bucket list: Be brave
22:14 GMT, 14 April 2012
In response to lost revenue from families whose children refuse to be wrestled from the controls of their Xbox 360s, the National Trust has just issued a ‘bucket list for the under-12s’.
There are 50 suggested activities, from canoeing down a river to catching a butterfly in a net and embarking on a nature walk at night.
Even though I was this age in the Sixties, in a far less helicoptered, Tiger Mommed, electronic age, I discover to my dismay I have completed perilously few of the tasks on this rather quaintly retro list of suggestions.
Out in the open: The trust is challenging children to tick off every item on its list, including kite-flying, watching the sun rise and getting behind a waterfall
Rolling rolling rolling: The National Trust is offering a helping hand for those youngsters who have yet to experience such character-building activities
Of the 50 ‘to dos’, I can only just about tick off ‘Throw some snow’, ‘Run around in the rain’ and ‘Eat wild blackberries’, although I’m not totally sure I’ve ever done the second.
As the anonymous super agent (OK, Jonny Geller), who took delivery of my (still unpublished) novel about the life of Emily Wilding Davison, the suffragette who threw herself under the king’s horse at the Derby, summed up in his rejection letter to me: ‘I’m afraid it’s very poor.’
I once tried to complete number 27: ‘Watch the sun wake up.’ I was an adult and had travelled by elephant (not the whole way, just the last bit) to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to see the sun wake up over the temple but only by mid-morning, when all the other tourists had long gone, did I realise I had been looking the wrong way. All in all, my childhood was hardly Swallows And Amazons; Sparrows and the A127, more like.
Worryingly, many of the items on the National Trust list seem rather cruel, given they involve clumsy children interfering with creatures in their natural habitat, such as ‘conduct a snail race’, ‘catch a fish’ and ‘find frogspawn’.
I thought catching butterflies in nets had been made illegal, along with collecting and blowing wild birds’ eggs and looting.
I think that the more children are encouraged to stay indoors, out of my way, the better. But still. This has set me thinking rather, about all the other things I’ve never done.
Life skills: The National Trust's checklist challenges youngsters to find their way with a map and compass and to track wild animals
But, first of all, you know that mantra people always wheel out on their death bed – you don’t regret the things you have done, only the things you didn’t do Rubbish!
There are lots of things I wish I hadn’t done, such as moved to Somerset, sold my Georgian house in London, got married and had a face and a boob lift.
I wish I’d never written about my best friend Jeremy, written about stealing sperm (although this did earn me a mention in The New Yorker, so it wasn’t all bad), moisturised my T-zone, read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (I still have flashbacks to the segment about the skin and the soldiers being buried), opened a Twitter account (I withstood the bullying for only two hours) and on and on and on.
And I wish I had never borrowed money or gone on holiday to Africa: no vacation is worth 26,000. I wish I hadn’t betrayed Oona King’s confidence, and written about her infertility and desire to adopt just because I was more terrified of my then editor than I was of the PCC. Why didn’t the Leveson Inquiry pull me up on that Or the fact I once put Renee Zellweger’s head on a different body (on a glossy magazine cover – I didn’t do this to her physically).
I wish I hadn’t annoyed Ashton Kutcher (all my emails were seized. I’m sorry, I can’t go into details for fear of inciting his wrath once more). I wish I had never lied about my age.
I wish I hadn’t used my best friend to get me backstage at the X Factor, then eviscerated all involved. I wish. I wish.
The National Trust hopes that children will embrace the '50 things' and start having their very own outdoor adventures with their family
AND writing about myself Well, if ‘open can of muddy worms’ had been ‘Number 51’ on the National Trust’s docket, well, I could have ticked that one off, too, with no mistake.
I also wish I never got embroiled with the Rural Payments Agency. Can Osborne not abolish this It’s a non-means-tested, non-taxed payout for super-rich landowners.
The list of regrets is almost endless. Edith Piaf I am most certainly not.
In fact, there is very little in my life I have done that has turned out well. I yearn, with every fibre of my being, to turn back the hands of time and make it all OK again (I wish I’d never bought my husband a Rolex).
But, oh dear, I’m sorry. I have gone off piste rather (something I’ve also never done). So, here is my bucket list, for what it is worth . . .
I wish I had been braver.
How many of the things on the list have you done