Catherine Fox, who wrote the wonderful Angels and Men, was coming up to a serious birthday last year and decided to ward off any suggestions that she might be becoming a stick-in-the-mud by making a resolution to try to do one new thing every week. As she’s a black belt at karate I doubt anyone sensible would call her a stick in the mud but I’ve had a nagging feeling recently that I might be slipping into a rut and perhaps it’s time to do something about it before said rut becomes a trench.
I’ll have to play fair of course and try to do things that are really new or stretching my own boundaries. So reading 52 new books this in 2012 would definitely be cheating as would trying out a whole load of different recipes as I’ll be doing both of those anyway. Though I might try making choux pastry, I’m no baker and when I get a new cook book usually don’t bother to even glance through the cake section.
Even if you’ve led a pretty adventurous life you tend to find that by the time you’ve reached fifty or so you’ve actually done quite a lot (even if you can’t always remember doing it. I had put ‘visit a volcano’ on my to-do list for this year and then realised we visited a little one on our honeymoon ). There aren’t many classic authors I haven’t at least tried, even for the sake of rut-busting I don’t think I’m prepared to tackle Ulysses, I’ve bottle fed a lion cub and a badger, made a tiger cub purr, driven a steam engine – albeit a half-size perfect replica, appeared on television, walked around the Statue of Liberty, climbed the highest sand dune in Europe, cuddled a Koala and seen a Duck-Billed Platypus (much smaller than I’d imagined). I’m an adventurous eater so there aren’t many normal foods I haven’t at least tried. I admit I haven’t ever knowingly had dog, cat, horse, monkey’s
brains, shark’s fin, anything that slithers, insects, eyes or private parts and orifices from any species and I don’t intend to start now. I’m not keen on feet either. I’ve never eaten ostrich or kangaroo though…
I’m not interested in new experiences gained from hallucinogenic drugs or cocaine either, I don’t think I’m up to the pilgrimage walk to St Jacques de Compostela and as I don’t have an unlimited budget, or much of a budget at all, I can’t go to India, go up in a helicopter, have a balloon ride, buy myself a serious piece of jewellery or go down to the bottom of the ocean where it’s so deep the light doesn’t penetrate and it’s very, very strange, something I’ve wanted to do since I was about twelve. But I am going to Sicily, where I’ve never been, to see my daughter and though I’m not sure I’ll be able to do one new thing a week like Catherine, I’m going to try for 52 new things over the year so at least it averages out.
So far my initial list of possibilities goes like this:
- Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower in the elevator (something I’ve always been too chicken to do).
- Visiting one museum in Paris which is completely different to my normal taste.
- Drive my husband’s 4 x 4 (the thing terrifies me).
- Mow the lawn which means using the tractor mower on quite a steep slope.
(Fear isn’t involved here, it’s blind terror.)
- Make profiteroles.
- Cook scallops – I’ve always been frightened of bogging it up and wasting rather a lot of money.
- Visit the caves at Lascaux
- Go to one of the places that’s marked on our map as being ‘of interest’ without looking it up to see if it’s worth it first.
- Plant three apple trees.
- Make regular detours to follow those signs that direct you to a tenth century church, a medieval château or a ‘point de vue’.
- Go to the Musée des Beaux Arts in Bordeaux
There’ll be more added as things occur to me but any suggestions (reasonable ones, children) will be most welcome.