I don’t have a bucket list. There I said it…I don’t fear death and I like living life as it comes. To me there is magic in the strangest places and, if I make a list and focus too hard on it, I tend to develop tunnel vision and miss the beauty of life’s scenery.
When you take the train, you have a vacuum of time. You can fill it as you like. We all do something different. I have worked on the train. I prefer to read. Mostly, though, I just like to stare out of the window and watch the world. I think I can say that I like travelling more than I like staying. Perhaps it’s the fact that you can just sit back and absorb the experience. You’re a voyeur of life. All you have to do is observe.
And travel is still exciting. I have taken small planes that land on tarmac you have to cross on foot. Try doing that without feeling like a Golden Age Hollywood film star. It helps if you carry a vanity case – but it’s not essential. I doubt Katherine Hepburn ever did.
Overnight trains are quite wonderful. Travelling from St Petersburg to Moscow in the early 90s felt like Doctor Zhivago – a book I have finished and would definitely recommend! Going from Marseille to Paris first class was straight out of North by North West.
Now, while I don’t have a bucket list, I would love to take the Blue Train with my husband. As inappropriate as this confession may sound, I want to retire to our bunks after lunch and enjoy the effects of the gentle rocking motion upon our closely arranged bodies.
The things I want to do with my time are different now. They’re more day to day. I would love to have time to go swimming regularly – screw learning to dance the tango.
I think what I really want to feel is freedom – to the point of abandonment sometimes. I love my children but they really clipped my wings. I was a social butterfly whose life was mainly filled with shallow interests and devoted almost entirely to the pursuit of happiness. I loved to go out with my friends – planning a party was an almost religious experience for me.
I missed a trick this year. I turned forty and I didn’t get myself organised. I fell into a funk. Total self indulgence on my part – and torture for my friends. Well, this year I’m throwing a massive party. I’m inviting everyone. There will be a theme and I expect guests to abide by the rules of fancy dress! Since I’m going for a Nights At The Circus shebang and dressing as the ringmaster, I will have a legit excuse to carry a whip.
Ultimately, I want to throw just one more outrageous party before I resign myself to intimate kitchen table dinners, work events and lunch dates – as rare and enjoyable as they are. I want one more night where people say ‘Sophie, Sophie, Sophie’ à la Gatsby. In my head, anyway.
Lastly, while I’m reminiscing, I would like to share one of my happiest times with my husband and family. I lived in the south of France when I was younger and the combination of sun and youth meant that the time was one of hedonism and personal discovery. My friends and I were – as the cliché goes – ‘poor but happy’. We drank and danced, laughed and loved – and not necessarily in that order.
I want to spend another summer there. The feel of sun on my collarbones is one that I will never forget. The long, leisurely lunches with friends should happen everywhere.
I would like to enjoy them with my family – to introduce my children to the concept of ‘carefree’ and to drink ‘un Ricard’ with my husband in a bar by Marseille’s vieux port.
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