Whether you're a feisty silver fox determined to savour your twilight years, or a fresh-faced youngster eager to begin your journey through life, what could be more natural than making a list of things to do before you die? However, we currently face the strong possibility of imminent nuclear annihilation, and you may be fried to a crisp with very little warning. Use this handy guide to downscale your list of aspirations so they can be fulfilled in a more realistic timeframe.
SWIM WITH DOLPHINS*
Dolphins are so cool. However, they prefer to live in the sea, often a considerable distance from the beach. How about settling for the next best thing: swimming with friends of dolphins? If you read the label on almost any can of tuna you'll see it described as 'dolphin friendly'. So, take a can of tuna to your local swimming pool, empty the contents into the water, and hop in.
SING WITH A CHOIR.
Highly commendable, but choirs are notorious hotbeds of gossip, spite and treachery. They're also a nightmare of bureaucracy, and you won't have time to negotiate all this before the mushroom clouds bloom. You're better off singing along to a recording, and watching the skies. When the horizon lights up you'll have just enough time to fast-forward and join in with the climax of the Hallelujah chorus before the blast wave reaches you.
CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST
Are you fucking insane? Climbing any mountain, let alone Everest, is incredibly dangerous. And don't say, "Oh, but mountaineers do it." Have you met a mountaineer? They're pathological obsessives incapable of forming human relationships. Here's a typical extract from a mountaineer's memoir:
… as I looked down at Duane, dangling over the crevasse on the end of my rope, I knew my faithful comrade faced certain death unless I could drag him to safety. There was no time to hesitate. Using all my strength I swiftly sawed through the rope with my knife. Saving him would have delayed my ascent by up to an hour…
Climb a tree. It's just as fulfilling, and the view is probably better than at the summit of Everest or Kilimanjaro, whose slopes are now strewn with trash, and resemble the site of a rock music festival after the fans have gone home.
Look, if you're just interested in scaring the living shit out of yourself there are easier ways to do it. Watch the news.
LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE.
Why? You'll never get around to using it. Your limited time would be better spent on crafting a few succinct words in your native tongue with which to deliver a meaningful final message to your close friends and family. Things like:
"I wish I'd told you more often that I love you."
"I said this would happen."
"I never liked your mother."
"I was faking it. Every single time."
"Didn't I say this would fucking happen?"
VISIT EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD
Too late. Way too late. But here's an option: get hold of a globe that shows all the nations of the earth, one that you can spin around. Spin it. As it spins, and the colours blur, jab your finger on it, bringing it to an abrupt halt. That country where your finger rests? Obliterated. Spin again, and jab again. That ocean? Vaporised. And again. Gone. All gone.
Sit back and look at the globe. That's our home. Pity we fucked it up. But you know what? In a way, you will visit every country in the world. When everything and everyone disintegrates, in a blinding flash or a slow entropic sigh, all matter will dissolve. All atoms will mix promiscuously, and some tiny part of you will blend with a speck of Latvia, Senegal or Chile. After all, this is how it all began: atoms, dancing. We are stardust, man. Ciao. KABOOM.
*Fun fact: when dolphins leap out of the water it's because they were asleep, and suddenly woke up and thought, Shit, I'm drowning! Then they remember they’re a dolphin, and they're embarrassed about freaking out, so they squirt a spout of water, to make it look like they meant to do everything all along.