Saturday, March 07, 2020

101 Things #72 - Becoming Crusoe

As I write these little pieces, debunking the suggestions of others as to what constitutes valid and exciting bucket-list objectives, I have found a couple of the most outré on the website of Tomas . The casual idea of about building a multimillion dollar business empire was one we had to put down. In rather similar vein, I think I am happy to add to my pile of rejects, 101 Things I Refuse To Do Before I Die the notion that one should

Buy an island.

I am not clear if one has to have pocketed the proceeds from one's multimillion dollar business before buying the island or whether the island comes first. Perhaps it is while roaming its lonely beaches and gazing mournfully out to sea from the top of the low hill in the middle, wondering where the hell the rowing boat with the food has got to, that one has the fantastic idea that will guarantee the success of the business.

Obviously if you are a multimillionaire, then buying an island is as natural as the luxury yacht, private chef and Van Gogh in the drawing room. For a few million pounds you can be lord of a sun-drenched Greek isle or an atoll in Tahiti, or perhaps a wee slab of heather and mountain in the Hebrides.

There are even specialist agencies that sell islands and will arrange for clients to visit. But if you are in the happy position that private flights are laid on for your trip to the other side of the world just so that you can purse your lips, tilt your head sideways and say thoughtfully "That sand will have to go" then you have really passed beyond the bucket-list stage. Your aspirations can all be attained at the drop of a cheque tap of an banking app.

Without some sense of challenge the bucket-list becomes a mere shopping list and ceases to be of much interest. Why should the ordinary commuter on the platform want to own an island? For a start and almost by definition they are hard to reach. Maybe in Finland where islands outnumber people by two to one, or up in the Canadian north, it is easy to live close to one. Here, for example, is a charming little place we spotted near Helsinki on a Baltic cruise

Pic: One of mine

 For the rest of us, the prospect not only of flying somewhere but then renting a car for a long drive, then engaging a local fisherman and hanging on grimly to the sides as the gales whip the waves over the gunwales - and then arriving and having to unpack and defrost the freezer and get a fire going and all the rest of it because of course nobody has been near the place for months - and then reversing the procedure a few days later when you want to go home ....

I would also worry about the practical aspects. The weather closes in and you are marooned. Your power supply fails. You hear strange footsteps outside at night and the nearest help (police, vets, whatever) are many hours away, assuming you can contact them anyway.

A natural counter to all this pessimism is to opt for nice little island on a lake where there a lots of other nice little islands and a town on a highway just a few hundred metres away. A bit like the one in my picture, perhaps (although it is still a hell of a sweat going for a pint of milk in the morning). But where is the fun in that? You might as well buy a country home on the mainland. Surely the whole point of an island is the remoteness, the isolation, the limitless views in all directions and the liberating feeling that you really all master of all you survey.

 I propose to be practical. There is no point in aspiring to own an island (at least an island worth owning, as opposed to a lump of mud in the Thames Estuary that is only visible at low tide) unless you have a considerable amount of ready cash to spend both acquiring it and on the wherewithal to furnish it and to travel there in comfort. And if I was in that position then I would not bother to have a bucket-list at all. As I am not, this idea can be filed away under 'U' for utterly pointless.

No comments:

Post a Comment