Here it is – from my Bucket List (in no specific order of priority):
1. Have a suit made by a London bespoke tailor
I know my tailor Samuel Yeong does quite a decent job of suiting me up. In fact, I think he is every bit as good as any Savile Row tailor… right down to having undo-able cuff buttons for his jackets. But there’s something to be said about having the real deal – just for the experience. I’m thinking that a 2-piece, all-weather business suit made from 11-ounce fabric would do me nicely…
Each suit might need up to 3 fittings and 12 weeks to complete (or so they say). So, this will necessitate a long-ish stay in London (yaaay!). However, at around RM20,000 a pop, the suit will not leave me much by way of change for sightseeing. But that’s OK. I’ll just buy all-day tube passes and forget about renting an Aston Martin DB5 for the stay.
Hey, I’ll even squat at Malaysia Hall if I can (still) get away with it.
Likelihood: Not very likely, mate.
2. Spend an hour with Sir Sean Connery
What can I say? Rather, what WILL I say to him?
Doesn’t really matter, I guess. I’ll think of something. Chances are it’ll revolve around Bond… James Bond [Cue: Bond theme music]. Getting a photo of me taken with the man would also figure very high up on the priority list.
Likelihood: Pretty good (if I confine myself just to the Bond music and don’t expect Sir Sean to turn up)
3. Fly a vintage Spitfire fighter
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” [Winston Churchill’s wartime speech referring to the fighter pilots of the RAF who fought and won the Battle of Britain]
I have no idea how much this will cost – or even if it is at all possible. But I do know how I would feel if I had the chance to strap myself into the cockpit of a Spitfire, take-off and fly the ruddy thing over the cliffs of Dover. It would be pretty much like how Singaporeans might feel if they were to get 3-inches of snow in Geylang tomorrow night. To call it ecstatic would be somewhat of an understatement.
Forget the F22, MiG 29 or even the Eurofighter – they’re probably not too far removed from my son’s video games. It’s the Supermarine Spitfire and her Rolls Royce Merlin engine that I’m after! No tech-laden, fly-by-wire, kill-at-a-flick-of-a- switch modern fighter will be able to hold a candle to the romance and character of the veritable Spitfire. Hence, it just absolutely has to be the Spit.
But in a crunch, I’d probably settle for the Hawker Hurricane.
Likelihood: exactly the same as getting 3-inches of snow in Geylang tomorrow night
4. Photograph Mt Kilimanjaro
Close your eyes. Now, see yourself setting up camp at Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro National Park. Imagine being there all on your own. There’s nothing to keep you company except for Toto’s ‘Africa’ that’s been playing in your head all day long.
Can you see your crusty, well-worn hiking boots? Feel how comfortable they are. Now, take it to the next level. Do you see yourself snug in a folding chair – in nothing but your khaki bush shorts – watching the light change as the sun sets in the African sky? A few steps away you see your camera: a Canon 5D MkIII, sitting proudly atop your Manfrotto tripod, ready for action.
And for the next few days you find yourself doing nothing but capturing the majesty of Kilimanjaro in all the nuances that the changing light brings. Can you think of anything that could make you feel more live than this – even if this is just for a few days?
Nor can I.
Likelihood: With a little luck, this might just fall on the right side of doable.
5. Finish my novel
Of course, I could hunker down, grit my teeth and finish the thing right here in Umbai if I really wanted to. But for some reason, I’m thinking of the little known, ancient town of Rye in East Sussex. Let’s start by taking out a short lease – say six months – on a room in a half-timbered house with a line of sight to the Mermaid Tavern.
Then, I’d probably enlist the help of my landlady – a thirty-two year old divorcee by the name of Madge (who looks curiously like Nigella Lawson) – to maintain discipline and keep me focused. She is allowed to take any means necessary make sure that I write at least ten solid pages a day. Only then will she let me have my camera back so that I can use it for a few hours.
When I return it to her later in the day, she’ll keep it away in the same place where she keeps her red-latex bustier, lace-up high-heeled boots, feather ticklers, horse whip and hand-cuffs.
I think with Madge’s brand of discipline I will finally be able to finish my novel. Don’t you?
Likelihood: Pretty good if I can find a publisher who is generous enough with his advance.