Girls, travel, rockets, transport, hotels, films, Martinis, wine, music, food and ranting!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer Solstice!

It almost reached 35 degrees today, where Triple P lives, which is the hottest since the blistering summer of 1976.  As my friend A said, as we sat naked in her garden, it's downhill now until winter.  We have had an official heatwave for over a week now.  Glad I haven't had to go up to London much!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The James Bond films of Sir Roger Moore

The death of Sir Roger Moore, yesterday, gives me a reason to look briefly at his Bond films.

The first Bond film I went to at the cinema was the Sean Connery You Only Live Twice (1967), at the age of seven.  I was probably far too young for it but was interested to go as I remember seeing the exterior of the volcano set when we drove past Pinewood Studios one day, on the way back from a trip to Whipsnade Zoo. 

The Roger Moore Bond films were the films of my teenage years and I was familiar with him, of course, from The Saint, which I watched occasionally (my parents didn't really approve of ITV) and, above all The Persuaders with it's expensive South of France locations (unlike The Saint, which constantly redressed the Home Counties).  Moore's Bond was, of course much lighter than Connery's and tends to split people of my generation between Connery and Moore.  I enjoyed several of Moore's Bond films and will examine some of the key aspects for me: Bond girls and soundtracks. 

Live and Let Die (1973)

The Film

Although I saw this at the cinema, I think I have only seen it a couple of times since and it is one of my least favourite Bonds.  Bond shouldn't be fighting tedious American criminals, I thought at the time.  A great poster, though, by Robert McGinnis, including tarot cards and speedboats from the rather ludicrous boat chase (which had been done better in Puppet on a Chain (1971)).  Moore still looked young, although he was twice the age of leading lady Jane Seymour.

The Bond Girls

After the abundant charms of Lana Wood and Jill St. John in Diamonds are Forever (1971) I found the main Bond Girls disappointing and totally lacking in the requisite sex-appeal (as we used to say back in 1973).  However, the outstanding Madeleine Smith, appearing briefly at the beginning of the film, saved it on the Bond girl front (!).

The Soundtrack

Composer for all the previous Bonds (with Monty Norman for Dr No, (discuss)) John Barry had given up on Bond following big arguments with the producers on Diamonds are Forever (1971),  Having had an Oscar nominated score (for Mary Queen of Scots (1971), he was focussing on writing musicals, so the producers called in Beatles producer George Martin. Although Paul McCartney's Live and Let Die was a big hit I am afraid I got really annoyed by the diabolical grammar in the line "in which we live in".  I didn't bother to get George Martin's soundtrack score until a few years ago.  It sounds more like a particularly funky Henry Mancini rather than than a John Barry effort and was the first in a series of  attempts to modernise the James Bond sound, which all now sound hopelessly out of date. Other than the title track, the only other piece I was familiar with was Bond meets Solitaire, as it was on a Bond compilation set I had, so wins best track by reason of familiarity.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

The Film

The bandwagon jumping Kung-Fu, energy crisis one saw Moore pushing The Persuaders style comedy while at least having a worthy opponent in Christopher Lee as Scaramanga.  The oriental locations looked good too and the angled office for M on board the hulk of the Queen Elizabeth in Hong Kong harbour was brilliant.  Another poster by Robert McGinnis, who certainly packed it with phallic symbols.

The Bond Girls

Swedish actresses Britt Ekland and Maud Adams were, at least, in their thirties, so met the general Hollywood standard of having leading ladies ten to fifteen years younger than the leading man.  Ekland couldn't act but Adams was pretty good and, uniquely for a lead, was brought back into the series in Octopussy.

The Soundtrack

John Barry was back in action for this one, although he seemed to be dealing with a smaller orchestra (especially in the brass section) than his style demands, resulting in a lot of cues sounding like nineteen seventies TV music (The Persuaders, in fact).  Already busy on other work he was called in at the last minute by the producers who knew he could deliver a soundtrack really quickly. Lots of Hong Kong Phooey orchestration in this. Twang!  Lulu was a friend of Barry's lyricist Don Black (Their musical Billy had become a big hit in the West End) but struggled to copy the Bassey power in an almost hilariously innuendo filled song. . Best track of a poor selection is Goodnight Goodnight.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The Film

Despite the plot being a complete rip off of You Only Live Twice this is my favourite Moore Bond film, before they fell into (even more) self parody.   Moore has completely mastered his insouciant version of the role here.  The Egyptian locations look fabulous, there is an appearance by Thunderbirds Shane (Scott Tracy) Rimmer and the opening ski jump stunt remains one of the greatest ever put on celluloid.  Unfortunately, Curt Jürgens performs villain Stromberg as if he was wearing someone else's teeth and appears to be on the point of dozing off for much of the film.  This time the poster was by Bob Peak, one of the greatest film poster artists of all time, who got his big break with West Side Story (1961) and also did posters for Apocalypse, Now (1979) the first Five Star Trek Films, Superman (1978), Excalibur (1981), Rollerball (1975) and many more.   The first Bond film I went to with a girl.

The Bond Girls

The general view of my school friends was that Barbara Bach was rather deficient in two key characteristics,  Bach was twenty years younger than Moore but, at fifty, he was still looking pretty good.  Caroline Munro as a helicopter pilot was a bonus.  This was the first film where the publicity stills really featured the incidental Bond girls.  In this case, the harem tent girls (Dawn Rodrigues, Felicity York, Anna Pavel and Jill Goodall).  Appearances by former Miss World Eva Rueber-Staier and Valerie Leon make this very strong as regards Bond Girls.

The Soundtrack

John Barru had fled the UK for tax reasons and so was unable to record the score for this, as it had to be done in Britain. Given I didn't really like George Martin's soundtrack for Live and Let Die I really shouldn't have liked Marvin Hamlisch's disco beat (Hamlisch actually wrote to the Bee Gees agents and apologised for lifting one of their rhythm tracks) version of the James Bond theme (it was nominated for a Grammy) but I did.  This may be because it was the first Bond soundtrack I actually bought. although at well under half an hour, it wasn't very good value. My favourite track is the weird Arab/jazz/orchestral mash up Eastern Lights (actually composed by one of title song lyricist Carole Bayer-Sager's producers) and I have played it while sitting on the balcony of the Inter-Continental in Cairo, watching the sun go down over the Pyramids, while drinking Lebanese wine with my particular friend Sophie.

Moonraker (1979)

Moonraker had the producers jumping on another bandwagon, started by the success of Star Wars (1977) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) (at one point Moonraker even references the key CE3K theme as a joke), so got Moore's Bond into space.  Sadly, the comedy elements (such as the gondola hovercraft) were getting more and more ludicrous.  Moore, who was starting to look his age, demonstrated some actual acting in this, particularly following the centrifuge sequence. Michael Lonsdale as villain Hugo Drax showed how to be menacing without histrionics but we could have done without the return of Richard Kiel's jaws. The poster was by top Hollywood storyboard artist Dan Goozee, who featured some of the ancilliary Bond Girls for the first time.  The last Bond film with sets by Ken Adam.

Bond Girls

Lois Chiles, in her early thirties, was a bad misfire and never really left the launching pad for Agent Triple P,  However, there was the compensation of a brief turn from the star of saucy French film The Story of O (1975), Corinne Cléry.  Much was made of the incidental Bond Girls this time, including a cornucopia of French actresses; Chichinou Kaeppler, Françoise Gayat,  Nicaise Jean-Louis, Catherine Serre  and Béatrice Libert.  Délicieuses!

The Soundtrack

Marvin Hamlisch was rather mystified that he was not asked back to do the next Bond soundtrac,k given The Spy Who Loved Me had been an Oscar nominated smash.  However, because the film was being shot in France, for tax reasons, John Barry was able to come back on board and initially planned an eight movement, seventy-five minute orchestral suite.  Although this was, eventually, much truncated the score is a precursor of his later big symphonic scores such as Out of Africa (1985).  Barry was back on form for this and had am 80 piece orchestra at his disposal.  I liked the Shirley Bassey theme song (it was nearly recorded by Frank Sinatra and was even offered to Kate Bush) and there was some excellent orchestration, especially in my favourite track, Bond Lured to Pyramid.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

After the SF excesses of Moonraker, there was a conscious attempt to go back to basics by dropping gadgets, sports cars (Bond's Lotus was symbolically blown up early in the film, requiring him to drive a 2CV), over the top villains and Ken Adam's sets.  Critic Derek Malcom said that Moore played Bond as if in a "nicely lubricated daze" while Philip French said that Bond was "impersonated by Moore".  Having the big villain played by an AT-AT commander with a wayward accent didn't help either,  A different approach to the poster, featuring Morgan Kane's photograph of Joyce Bartle's legs, didn't go down too well with parts of puritan America, which cut the image of the girl at the knees or even added shorts.  The poster was, in reality, as dull as the film and director John Glem. almost killed the franchise off with this and subsequent Bond films by really not understanding Bond other than stunts, stunts and more stunts..

Bond Girls

Sleepy-eyed ("I have sluggish kidneys," she claimed) Carole Bouquet was thirty years younger than Roger Moore and becoming a proper actress in art films.  She did not appear that enthusiastic about the whole thing,  Eva Reuber-Staier returned in a brief part and the number of decorative Bond girls (around one of the minor villain's pool in the film) had increased but also included, unknown to the producers, a transsexual called Tula who was born Barry Cossey (far left in this photo).  Unknown to Playboy too who featured many of the girls (including Tula) posing naked in their June 1981 issue.  Several, such as  Lalla Dean, were Page Three or glamour models and Alison Worth was a well known mainstream fashion model.  The less said about skater Lynn Holly Johnson (the Jar-Jar Binks of the Bond films) the better. 


John Barry still couldn't visit the UK and was tied up with the soundtrack of Body Heat (1981) so recommended Bill Conti, who had had a big success with Rocky (1976).  I didn't buy this funky guitar heavy score until last year and only because I am a completist. Apart from the rather good title track by Sheena Easton it is singularly lacking in memorable moments.

Octopussy (1983)

The Film

Moore is actually quite good in this, although there were more and more stupid gags (mainly involving Vijay Amritraj) which clashed with what could have been a more serious effort,  Moore had wanted to retire from Bond after For Your Eyes Only but the prospect of the Sean Connery competing Never Say Never Again got the producers to bring Moore back again.  Louis Jourdan was silky smooth as Kamal Khan but Steven Berkoff gives the worst performance of any Bond villain.  The Indian locations were splendid and Dan Goozee returned to do the poster.  Maud Adams with eight arms? What a thought!

Bond Girls

Thirty-eight year old Maud Adams returned to Bond although the producers originally wanted authentically Indian Persis (Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)) Khambatta. Adams was paired with another Swedish actress, Kristina Wayborn, whose big fight scene was a precursor of all subsequent martial arts heroines in Western action films.  Lots of action too from the circus and acrobatic girls supervised by former British Olympic gymnast Suzanne Dando,  Bucket loads of Bond Girls in this one including Alison Worth (again), Page 3 and Penthouse model Joni Flynn. Miss World 1977 Mary Stavin and Page 3 model and Penthouse Pet of the Month for March 1982 Janine Andrews.  Certainly the finest ensemble group to date.

The Soundtrack

John Barry (who had turned down scoring Never Say Never Again out of loyalty to the producers) had settled his outstanding tax bill with the Inland Revenue so was free to return to Britain to do the soundtrack.  The title song, sung by Rita Coolidge (originally offered to Triple P favourite, Laura Branigan), was not bad and did well in the charts, accompanied, in a novel way at the time, by a pop video.  The soundtrack, which had much of the style of Diamond are Forever about it, referenced the James Bond theme much more than previous ones, no doubt to emphasise that this was the 'real' Bond.  Favourite track is the slinky Bond meets Octopussy.

A View to a Kill (1985)

Moore was fifty seven  in this, his final Bond film and it showed. Even Moore admitted it was his least favourite film.  The Legatus quite likes it, though. and, despite his age, Moore looks in better shape than in Octopussy.   It is saved by great sidekick performance by Patrick Macnee and some wonderful location cinematography.  The poster was the final one by Dan Goozee.

Bond Girls

Tanya Roberts looks nice in a big haired 1980s way but can't act her way out of a paper bag (she received a worst actress nomination at the Golden Raspberry awards for this).  Moore bemoaned the fact that Roberts'  mother was younger than he was. Both Alison Doody and Fiona Fullerton have never looked better and Grace Jones looks like a monster, as usual. The background girls, featured at a party given by villain Max Zorin (an enjoyably over the top Christopher Walken), included Page 3 favourites Sian Adey-Jones and Nike Clark.

The Soundtrack

Duran Duran (who had approached Cubby Broccoli about doing the song at a party) produced the first (and very successful; it was the first Bond theme to get to number one in the US) really modern pop song for the franchise, working closely with John Barry.  Barry used Nic Raine to orchestrate the score which was somewhat dialled in. Best track is Airship to Silicon valley.  It would be Barry's second to last Bond soundtrack.

So thanks. Sir Roger, for all those happy memories.  I am going to watch them all again now! 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Sir Roger Moore 1927-2017

As if things couldn't get any worse in Britain today, Sir Roger Moore, the James Bond of my teenage years, has died at the age of 89.  A proper appreciation of his Bond films will appear in this blog at the weekend.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Eurovision babes 2017

Denmark: Anja Nissen

Ah, Eurovision.  It used to be one of the few places, on politically correct British TV you could get scantily clad dancing girls (usually backing acts from former Soviet countries) but now the show is so popular with gay men that the flesh flaunting females of yesteryear are now an endangered species. 

This year, long dresses for the women seemed to be de riguer and Denmark's Anja Nissen filled hers perhaps the most effectively of any of the ladies.  She seems to have quite a thing for red dresses but her Eurovision one was rather less revealing than some of her previous efforts.

Nissen is Australian but both her parents are Danish.  The teenage Nissen won The Voice Australia in 2014 but her career hasn't exactly taken off since then.  If I liked busty blondes she would have been my favourite Eurovision babe.  But I don't so,  she wasn't.

Dutch sisters OG3NE (their name reflects their mother's blood group and their shared genetic material!) also won The Voice in 2014 but the Dutch version.   Two of them were certainly ensuring their lungs weren't too constricted  yesterday.  Unfortunately, it was the two of them who look like they have eaten all the Edam.

Rejoicing in the not very Dutch names of Lisa, Amy and Shelley they competed in the Junior Eurovision Song Contest (who even knew there was such a thing?  Shudder!) ten years ago when they were pre-teens with lots of braces in their teeth.

Shelley and Amy (left and middle) are twins and older sister Lisa isn't.  Lisa certainly gave the most bust revealing performance of the night.  Bet Anja Nissen was annoyed when she saw their outfits! With a final position of 11th they smashed Anja's 20th for Denmark, too.

Polish entry Kasia Moś is an ex Las Vegas Pussycat Doll burlesque star.  She is older than the other girls here, at 30.  A proper musician, she studied cello and piano at the Frederic Chopin Music school and has a degree in contemporary and jazz music.

Perhaps misunderstanding the term jazz magazine, she posed for Playboy Poland.  She does look like she needs to go on the OG3NE diet, though.  Sadly, severely hampered by an unfortunate dress, she finished a lowly 22nd out of 26 in the final.  Ruff.

Romanian yodeller (yes, really) Ilinca Băcilă wore a very entertaining frock.  Still only eighteen, she was in The Voice Romanis in 2014 as well as getting to the final of Romania's Got Talent. 

Romania. No! No! No!

Belarus.Yes! Yes! Yes!

Maybe that's why her co-singer was so overcome he gave her the most cringe-making and obviously unwelcome kiss afterwards (in contrast to the Belarus couple's convincing looking snog after their performance). They came a creditable 7th and might have done better without the onstage assault.

Our final selection, from a poor year, is France's retro looking Alma (Alexandra Maquet), a 28 year old business graduate from Lyon.

 I really liked her sixties style look.  Yé-yé.  She came 12th. Lovely!  My favourite Eurovision babe this year.  Liked her song, too.

Britain's Lucie Jones is another TV song contest (and more recently a West End musical star) participant, coming 7th in 2009's X-Factor, being voted off in favour of Irish 'novelty' duo Jedward, embarrassingly.  She certainly gave it her all and did well in the professional jury vote (99 votes) but dismally (10 votes) in the public vote.  This is because the inhabitants of the third rate EU countries (i.e. most of them) wonder what is going to happen to their rubbish economies once the EU doesn't have bucket loads of our cash to dole out to them and they can't come here to earn money which they then don't spend here but send home to their UK benefit claiming families.

She deserved better than her fifteenth place,  It's our best position since 2011 and in any other year she would have done better.  The very trim Lucie also works as a model, including for her own lingerie range.  Lovely shape!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

St George's Day

Today is St George's Day where we celebrate the dragon slaying patron saint of England.  Except we don't.  Unlike the saint's day celebrations of our Scots, Welsh and Irish cousins, St George's Day is almost completely ignored in England.  Worst still, our flag, the cross of St George now has unpleasant associations with far right racist groups so that even displaying it in some parts of the country causes trouble.  The only other time it makes an appearance is when our dire football team takes part in their inevitable disastrous performance in a major tournament.  

Interestingly, when you do a Google search for England flag babe you mostly get pictures of girls draped in the Union flag, which is the flag of Great Britain not England. It may well be that this confusion of England with Britain is part of the reason we don't celebrate St George's Day.  Unlike our Celtic neighbours we don't have to shout out about our national identity.  We are English.  That is enough, 365 days a year.  

Still,we like these five young ladies from 2007's Miss England competition. Eventual winner Georgia (appropriately) Horsely is second from left.  This was the competition where the organisers reputedly told the girls to 'fatten up' - so they had more womanly figures and didn't encourage anorexia in young girls.  Quite right!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

30 Things I have never done

The ladies of Oxford University Women's rugby team

There is a big Rugby tournament going on in parts of Europe at present.  I was out with my friend A last week and I mentioned that I had never attended a Rugby match, which she seemed to find incredible considering I live eight miles from Twickenham Stadium, the home of Rugby in Britain.. We started talking about other things I hadn't done and she got more and more incredulous, so she got me to write them down.   What this list needs is some illustrations, I thought, so I found some appropriate ones.

The key thing with these is that they're not things I haven't done and would like to, (like going up the Nile on a steamer) they are things I haven't done and have no intention of trying!

So I have never:

1 Been to a rugby match.

I can actually see that rugby is a good game (unlike football (soccer, that is), which is tedious) but I have never been to a match. Partly, it is because I have never been into the tribal elements of team sports.  I used to follow athletics quite closely (and I have been to quite a few athletics events) but it is still horribly drugs ridden so have largely given up on it, except for when the Olympics comes around.

2 Been to a cricket match

Now this is a key pillar of British (do they play cricket in Scotland or are all the pitches marred by caber impact craters) cultural history, so I should be in favour of it but, again, it is stupefyingly dull.  I have been invited to a couple of Test matches (in the UK and Bombay) but I turned them down. I went to the Oval for a conference last year and even the sight of the pitch made me start to doze off. 

3. Played golf

I have played crazy golf on the Isle of Wight a few time with young relations but it stresses me out as I have no hand to eye co-ordination.  I can't imagine trying proper golf, let alone watching it.  If you do take it up you immediately lose all your dress sense and start to look like you have stolen your clothes from a dead clown or Rupert Bear.  I once had lunch with the Council of Lloyd's in the eighteenth century Adam Room, which, curiously, tops Richard Roger's construction kit insurance headquarters in the City.  As we were sitting down, Lord somebody or other, who was sat next to me, asked if I played 'goff".  When I said that I didn't he ignored me for the rest of the lunch.  

On the subject of attendance at other sports events, given I used to live in Wimbledon, I did go there for the tennis once (dragged there by a girlfriend) and while I enjoyed the sight of tall, fit looking women in short skirts on court, it is another tedious game and is, basically, sport for girls.

4, Been hunting, shooting or fishing

I don't really approve of bloodsports and anyway it is fabulously expensive.  My particular friend. Sophie, happily blasts away at all sorts of poor wildlife around the world but she is Canadian.  She also doesn't shoot anything she can't eat, which is where I would draw my ethical line.

5 Been to a pop or rock concert

Until I was seventeen the only non classical or jazz records I had were three Beatles records given to me by my aunt when she got married.  Although I have some pop on my iTunes, there is very little past 1985 (and most is sixties).  I never really got the hang of rock because most of it is so musically bankrupt.  I have about 450 rock tracks (out of 24,000) on my iTunes and more than half of that is Mike Oldfield (who I do like).  Again, like sports, I am not into the shared experience thing of going to a concert,  I don't like classical concerts either, mainly because I like to whistle along with the tunes (which is why I don't like Bruckner - it has no tunes).  I have been to three concerts in the last thirty years: Stacey Kent, Clare Teal (both jazz singers) and the Barry Gray concert at the Festival Hall where I got to chat with Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson.

As I get older I am getting more and more resistant to the thump, thump, thump of modern music which seems to pervade Britain.  I am amazed, when watching the Eggheads quiz on TV, how almost none of the contestants can answer basic questions on classical music.  Do they not realise that pop music is all low grade, commercial juvenilia?

6 Been in a helicopter

I have been in far too many aircraft but I have managed to avoid those flying death traps, helicopters.  I nearly went in one once to get from Vancouver to Victoria but I pulled out at the last minute and went in proper plane instead. I will never, ever, go in one of these!

7 Been in a hot air balloon

Flying is awful but sometimes you cannot avoid it but the thought of taking to the air in a piece of eighteenth century technology for recreational purposes (after all you can't go anywhere specific in one) is beyond me,  Oh look, an unexpected power line!

8 Been in a light aircraft

 I turned down a lift in a light aircraft back from St Malo once and I also turned down a flight in a two seater Spitfire, owned by a friend of a relative.  I was almost tempted by this but you know that these pilots who "want to take you for a spin" want to fly upside down and do loops.  The cemeteries of the world are full of light aircraft pilots and their passengers.

9 Ridden a motorbike or scooter

Driving a car on the roads is one of the most dangerous things you do regularly.  So why make it even more dangerous? Added to this, motorbike riders seem to think that the normal rules of the road don't apply to them but always get furious when some poor car driver knocks them off their naturally unstable conveyances, probably because they are trying to do something they shouldn't. 

10  Driven a van

I have more than enough problems driving a car (I hate it) and I probably only do about thirty minutes driving a week, so have very little road sense, can't parallel park and can't back into car park spaces.  Why would you back in anyway?  Surely you want to do the backing into the widest space, i.e, out, not into the narrow space.  It baffles me, this one..  In supermarkets, I always look for those triple slots, where you can leave a car's width on either side.  Trying to do any sort of manoeuvering where you can't see behind you and have a wide vehicle to deal with, as in a van, would be beyond me. 

11 Hired a car

Given my total lack of driving ability I wouldn't dream of hiring a car, which always seems to be an expensive, complex and stressful process anyway, as the rental people always seem to want to tell you that you have nicked the paint so they can charge you extra.  Good job I don't live in America!

12 Smoked a cigarette

Not once.  Ever.  Not even been tempted to try. They are just disgusting.  Sophie has been known to smoke a cigar, occasionally and, oddly, I don't find that smell to be as offensive as cigarette smoke. Wouldn't want to try one, though.  There are enough things that can go wrong with your body without significantly adding to the risk.

13 Taken any illegal drugs

Because they are even worse for you than smoking and also they are illegal.  Where do all these hip and trendy metropolitan people think their drugs come from?    Because, by taking them they are directly supporting organised crime, violence and murder.  Very hip.  Having spent a lot of time in Colombia and seen what the drugs trade did to the ordinary people of the country, this one gets me really cross!

14 Been caving

Recently, a friend went on one of these management team building courses where they had to go into a cave at night. Not a nice, open, hole in a cliff sort of cave but one of those wriggle through a tight gap ones.  I am very claustrophobic (I got about thirty feet into the Great Pyramid once, with a lady and we both looked at each other and bolted for the open air again) so the thought of pot holing terrifies me.  I don't even like watching it on TV.   I asked if anyone had refused to do this and he said no.  I would have refused!

15 Been rock climbing, bungee jumping or abseiling

What do you think?  As you may gather, I am very risk averse (I was in a bad accident when I was small and spent a lot of time in hospital) and anything involving precipitous drops seems idiotic to me.  Some people are thrill seekers and get a "rush" from this sort of thing, I am told.  Many of them are dead. I went ski-ing once but it was cold, wet and dangerous.

16 Been camping

Honestly, I get uncomfortable if I have to drop down to a four star hotel, so the idea of sleeping in a tent seems ghastly. 

17 Been scuba diving

Actually, I have always wanted to try this but I am a poor swimmer and don't like being out of my depth.  Also, it's one of those activities that is more complex and technical than it appears, so my chances of drowning would be quite high!

18 Been white water rafting

Great opportunities for drowning or getting concussion while suffering motion sickness. Horrible!

19 Been on a roller coaster

Recent events at Alton Towers theme parki have shown how dangerous these pointless things are.  I get motion sick on a carousel so the thought of careering around on a vertiginous, narrow track maintained by bored students holds no appeal whatsoever.

20 Been go-karting

I don't like going fast in anything so being close to the ground on a tea tray with a lawnmower engine does not sound very appealing.  It's all a bit corporate team building, too.  I am not a team person!

21 Been paintballing

This also has more than a little of an IT consultants awayday about it.  A young relative used to go sometimes but it doesn't seem like very good value (the pellets are really expensive) and can be painful.

22 Played darts

I would be completely useless at this and as darts seems to be popular in a certain sort of pub it is unlikely I would be found in an environment where it is going on.  I did go ten pin bowling once and a friend has a snooker table but I was as good at both as you would imagine.

23  Stayed in a youth hostel

I didn't go abroad on holiday without my family until I was twenty three and by that time I was earning enough to stay in proper hotels. I do not want to sleep in rooms with strangers, unless they are female and they have asked to be there!  I went on a car ferry to Jersey once and had a shared cabin with a stranger, so I went and slept up on deck.

24 Been to Iceland

Not the shop where third rate celebrities pretend to buy disgusting looking frozen desserts (although I haven't been there since it was called Bejam) but the country.  I haven't been to Cyprus, Bosnia, Montengro, or Macedonia either but the one European country I have no desire to visit is Iceland.  It's basically Mordor. A dark, grim, treeless nation inhabited by puffin eating cod snatchers in dubious sweaters who can't keep their volcanoes, fishermen or investors under control. Britain's new enemy in Europe.  

25 Played poker or bridge

I have no gaming ability whatsoever, so card games are quite beyond me.  I used to play Sooty snap with my cousin's children but I wasn't very good at that either.  I also don't enjoy board games and always lose at them.  

26 Learned to play a musical instrument

I am quite musical (I am told) but don't have the patience to learn a musical instrument   I don't enjoy learning how to do things.  If I can't do something straight away I lose interest. 

27 Ridden a horse

One of the most dangerous pastimes there is. Being in close proximity to large animals makes me very nervous.

28 Owned a pet

I never could understand the appeal of having an animal in the house, which would then die after a few years.  Basically, the only good animal is a cooked one.

29 Sung karaoke

Oh dear, that sounds like IT consultants away day again.  This was arranged for a work Christmas party once, so I didn't go.  You only have to watch the X-Factor to see how many people think they can sing and can't.  Torture!

30 Been to a dance 

A slight rider, here.  I have danced (if you can call it that) on New Years Eve 1975, at Brasenose College Ball in 1980 and in the bar of the Reval Hotel in Lithuania with Swedish Anna (who I had just met) in 2006. I was very drunk on all three occasions. The thought of going somewhere with the sole purpose of dancing would be horrific. I don't enjoy dancing and, am very suspicious of men who do.  As my father used to say: "dancing is for women, children, homosexuals and black people".  Dancing is ridiculous and you look ridiculous doing it unless you are very, very well trained. Although I love Strictly Come Dancing, dancing is, fundamentally, about showing off and there is nothing worse than a show off! Fortunately, dancing in 1975, when I first tentatively did some with a girl called Debbie on New Years Eve, seemed to involve gently jiggling up and down with your arms bent and your hands held up at shoulder level. Then came Saturday Night Fever which encouraged show offs all over the planet and, from then on, made dancing, particularly for men, an embarrassing minefield   I couldn't then (as I still can't) understand why dancing was supposed to be fun; it was totally ghastly.

It is often said (usually by people on Strictly Come Dancing, for example) that anyone can dance but I actually don't agree with this.  I think dancing is an innate ability, like being musical, having ability in languages, being good at maths or drawing. While you can improve a little through teaching, if you don't have that basic ability nothing that anyone does for you can help. It is best just to acknowledge your limitations, therefore! If you are no good at something you should not do it!

So,there are my thirty things in life I have no intention of trying!