“I never thought that you’d get married. I would be living down here on my own” – Jarvis Cocker.
Life is just a journey of things we did and things we didn’t do. That is it. As a kid, I had big dreams and I managed to do 40 things by the age of 40. Yes I wrote about 40 things I managed to do by this age, 40. Not necessarily 40 things I wanted or planned to do, but I did them nevertheless. I did 40 things. Or more. But I also didn’t do 40 things. Or more. Touching a piece of metal looking at an emu was hardly a backpacker’s paradise was it?
“Eyes opened wide; looking at the heavens with a tear in my eye” – Richard Ashcroft.
“Not sure I understand this role I’ve been given” – Robbie Williams.
But after writing the list of 40 things I did manage to do before the age of 40, I realised that the list of things I didn’t do was also huge but there were only really a selection to include in a year where mask loyal, coronavirus panic and staying in one country (Poland) for 13 months was the way to go. Here’s the tribal countdown…I didn’t do them, yet.
This has always been my dream. I got engaged in 2011, but never got married. It’s still my biggest dream in life. But aged 40 I haven’t done it. This is always number one. Nobody wants to die alone. Nobody should be alone. If I put the photo of the wife I found, you might not believe it. She wouldn’t either. But she won’t marry me. But also, I never asked her. She never afforded me the chance to ask her. Tomorrow hasn’t happened yet.
“Smooth operator” – Sade.
“De de du de du, du du de, du du de” – Robert Miles.
It’s a common question when I was a backpacker, “do you have any kids?” The answer was always “no”. I don’t want the answer to always be no. But time’s running out on my timeclock in this regard. My Mum was a qualified childminder for 20 years, I played football with kids in over 10 countries, I taught English to over 1,000 children. Where there’s a willy there’s a way. The girl should be special. And then, the child will be. You’re both out there…
“Take a chance on me” – Abba.
I never want to do this and luckily I haven’t done it and I am not currently married so I cannot currently do it. No way Pedro. It ain’t happening.
“He’s the only swinger in town” – ITV commentator on Roger Milla (1990).
The 1990 World Cup had me glued to the television screen as a kid watching Cameroon at the 1990 World Cup. Players like Omam Biyick, Thomas N’Kono, Emmanuel Ekeke, Cyrille Makanaky and the legendary Roger Milla. The nearest I got to Cameroon was in Porto Novo, Benin in 2018. Still two countries away. I’ll keep my memories of the land down under and the day I saw a signed Roger Milla Cameroon shirt. Now that’s Jurassic Park. Roger Milla is my hero. Absolute superstar. Move over Beethoven.
5.Ride a Horse
“Why do only fools and horses work?” – John Sullivan.
I’ve been on a camel, an aeroplane, an elephant and a ferry but I have never been on a horse! Yes I have never ridden a horse. I’ve seen a few, I touched a few. I even watched Buzkashi (the national sport) in Afghanistan. Never ridden one, weird? Perhaps… I even went camel riding in Mesr, Iran.
6.Get the Apology You Crave
Some things on this list are actually beyond our control. This would make me a happy man. This would settle it. Depression would disappear. But she refused to apologise for her mistakes. Life lies a slow suicide.
“You’ll be cast away; alone under stormy skies” – Noel Gallagher.
“I can’t get no satisfaction” – Mick Jagger.
“I would fly you till thon moon and back. If you’ll be. If you’ll be my baby, yeah” – Savage Garden.
7.See A Live Baitle (Beatle)
John Lennon was murdered just after I was born, George Harrison died before I got a chance to see him and well I missed my chances so far to watch Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr live. The nearest I came was touring the Beatles Story in Liverpool and hanging out down Beatles Square in Ulaan Baatar.
“Tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun” – The Baitles (Beatles).
“Picture yourself in a boat on the river” – The Baitles (Beatles).
“She loves you yes yes yes” – Lennon/McCartney.
“Republic of Ireland 0-1 Northern Ireland” – Lennon/McCarthy.
8.Watch AFC Bournemouth play against a non-Welsh or non-English team
“Alan. Alan Connell Alan. Alan Connell Alan” – Cherries fans.
It might seem shameful to say that I have NEVER seen AFC Bournemouth play outside of England or Wales, and not even seen us play a home match with a foreign team (Wales exempted). Yet I’ve flown in and out of England from over 20 countries to watch the Cherries!! I did see us play Wrexham, Cardiff City and Swansea City (all many times).
I skipped the Real Madrid match in 2013, plus numerous home glamour ties v AC Milan, Marseille etc. That day might come. If it doesn’t, I’ll always support my team, the Cherries, from lands afar.
“I can’t live with or without you” – Paul Hewson.
9.Watch Glentoran FC outside Northern Ireland
Another ridiculous shame on my behalf is that I have never watched my Northern Irish team Glentoran FC outside of my country! This might amaze people who know how much I love football, and supporting local sport. I had dozens of chances to watch Glentoran outside of Northern Ireland. We played a few games in Scotland v. Rangers, Stranraer etc. We played many games in the Republic of Ireland in the Setanta Cup. We also played Milton Keynes DickMonalds when I lived in England. Plus over thirty away European matches and a whackpacking match in Detroit. I missed them all. The only explanation I can give is that I was busy doing something else those days and that doesn’t work with Ovalites. Next time, I guess I will put this one right…
10.Own A Flat
Mortgage geeks love it. They buy a flat and they live in it. It was easy to organise once you had the money. However, it wouldn’t have worked for me and my lifestyle. I’d rather waste my money on backpacking the world…I have slept in over 1000 different beds, in over 170 different countries. I have lived in 7 countries, I have rented rooms/beds for longer than a month period in 30 places. I’m still young…ish.
11.Get A Northern Ireland Flag Emoji
I started a petition for a Northern Ireland flag emoji beacuse Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, What’s App etc. don’t have it as an option yet they have places like Pirates (a nomadic boat army), Cuzco (a city not a country), Jersey (no FIFA football team) and UN (Untied Nations) on their flag options. I am a strong Northern Irish nationalist. I am not European. I am not British. I am not Unionist. I am not Loyalist. I am not Kingdomist. I am not Queendomist. I am a Northern Irish nationalist. Endgame.
I am an Ulsterman, a Northern Irishman. I fly my Northern Ireland flag all around the world. I tell people about my wee country. Because why? Because I love it. I love Northern Ireland. It’s the best country I’ve ever been to.
Get us a Northern Ireland flag emoji – sign the petition
Belfast Telegraph – get a Northern Ireland flag emoji
BBC – round the world with a Northern Ireland flag
Northern Ireland flag emoji on Facebook
Travelling Northern Ireland flag on Facebook
Travelling Northern Ireland flag website
“There are things stronger than parliamentary majorities” – Andrew Bonar Law.
12.Learn my Native Language – Ulster Scots
13.Learn my Second Native Laguage – Irish Gaelic
English is not my native language. It’s not my first. It’s not my second. English is my third language.
It’s England’s language. It ain’t mine.
My first language is – Ulster Scots.
My second language is – Irish Gaelic
English is a poor man’s third. Oxford and Cambridge lost it when Shakespeare kicked the bucket. The man was so patriotically English that he was born and died on Saint George’s Day.
“It is left us ourselves, to end ourselves” – William Shakespeare.
I have studied German, French, Spanish, Polish and Cantonese down the years however, yet I have never studied Ulster Scots or Irish Gaelic. Why? We should have been given Ulster Scots and Irish Gaelic for FREE in Northern Ireland. I ain’t paying money to be myself.
England – the colonial buck eejitry destroys local languages. David Healy put you right…
“Flag stays down, Healy” – Jackie Fullerton.
14.Live in Africa
15.Live in North or Central America
16.Live in Antarctica
I just visited those continents (Africa, North / Central America, Antarctica) and didn’t really live in them. I don’t really want to live there now. I just don’t have time. Time is of the essence. However, I loved all those backpacking days and at least I have the memory of two years in Oceania (living in the land down under) and my month living with Perla in Montevideo, Uruguay (1930, 1950 loyal). I was once rejected for a job at the post office in Port Lockroy in Antarctica.
This is an honest travel blog, but I had to delete this one.
“I think of you now and then” – Wet Wet Wet.
18.Meet Norman Whiteside
“I went to the World Cup, some of my mates went to prison” – Norman Whiteside.
I have met many of my heroes from the Northern Ireland football team down the years. Players like Gerry Taggart, David Healy, Pat Jennings, Jonny Evans, Ian Stewart, Steven Davis and Gerry Armstrong. But actually my first hero was Norman Whiteside. I always wanted to be Norman Whiteside as a kid. Norman Whiteside made his Manchester United debut aged 16. Norman Whiteside made his Northern Ireland debut aged 17, against Yugoslavia at the World Cup in Spain (in 1982). That day, Norman broke Pele’s record as the youngest ever World Cup player. He had only just turned 17.
I tried to dress as Norman Whiteside – I had my green Northern Ireland shirt, white shorts, a green and white ball – not bad for a 7 year old…
I haven’t yet met Norman. Hopefully one day, I will meet Norman Whiteside.
19.Watch Northern Ireland at a World Cup
Since I was born, Northern Ireland have been at 2 World Cups (1982 and 1986) but yet I didn’t go to either. We were also at one before I was born, in 1958. I was only 2 for the 1982 World Cup in Spain and only 6 for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. So I didn’t go. Since those days, we haven’t qualified. To make up for it, I have
- been to the Euros to watch Northern Ireland (not quite the same as a World Cup)
- been to two World Cups and watched 3 matches (not quite the same as watching my country)
- been to two Under 20 World Cups (watching other countries)
- watched over 100 Northern Ireland matches (this is as good as life gets)
The dream is still to watch Northern Ireland at a World Cup one day. Qatar 2022, we can still make it.
20.Release My Poetry
I have written over 1,000 poems/songs/lyrics. I haven’t yet released them in a book. I pipelined it…one day I will release them all.
“Our eyes are the same in a life we don’t know” – Jonny Blair Poetry.
21.Watch AFC Bournemouth at Wembley
The Cherries might have won the Full Members Cup in the 1980s, the Third Division in the 1980s, the Play off Final in 2003 and the Second Division in 2015. But none of that happened at Wembley Stadium!!! True. Our only appearance there, we lost to Grimsby Town…
The 1984 Members Cup final victory was at Boothferry Park, Hull.
The 1987 Division Three winning season was confirmed at Dean Court, Bournemouth.
The 2003 Play off final win over Lincoln City was at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
The 2015 Division Two winning season, we confirmed it away to Charlton at the Valley, London.
However, in 1997-98 at the Football League Trophy Final, we were beaten by a Grimsby Town side that had 2 Northern Irish players. To date, that is our ONLY full level match at Wembley Stadium. We lost an FA Cup Quarter Final to Scumdogs in 2021 which would have meant a semi at Wembley.
22.Not Date the Girl I Wanted
“Kiss the girl she’s not behind the door” – Oasis.
This is a double negative here – I never didn’t date the girl I wanted. So really, I could actually say I have been lucky in that all the girls I wanted to date, I was able to date them. Even if Noemi, Panny turned out bad in the end. A kiss is never just a kiss in my world. The fact is, I was still given the “yes” by such girls, albeit for a short time. I don’t know how bittersweet this all is. Right now, I am totally single and I am not sure what comes next. I should have stuck with Claire. She never said “no” to me. Come to think of it, neither did anyone else I wanted.
“Happiness lies in your own hands” – Madonna.
23.Learn the language of the country I live in, twice
The only country I have lived in that I learnt the language was England. I tried and failed (so far) at these others that I spent a minimum of a month living in –
Northern Ireland – I don’t speak Ulster Scots or Irish Gaelic
Australian – I don’t speak Torres Strait/Aboriginal languages
Hong Kong – I don’t speak Cantonese/Mandarin
Poland – I don’t speak Polish/Silesian/Kashubian/Kociewien
Epic fail. I do speak a bit of Polish, but it’s simply not good enough…
24.Release my book on my journey to Poland
I have written so many books down the years that they all needed segregated. I have felt like a kitchen boy going through the rubbish to segregate the recyclables. Paper, metal, card, plastic, wood, glass…where’s the Poland book? It’s not coming home as the publishing process is long. It’s all written. Chapters are all titled. In fact, these are a list of books I have either written, co-written, been featured in or contributed to – they are almost all ready/already out –
1.My first ever travel blog (e-Book only)
2.My guide to the Inca Trail (e-Book only)
3.Crossing borders in South America (e-Book only)
4.Green and White Army (contribution only)
5.Albania to America (contribution only)
6.Backpacking Centurion Volume 1 – Don’t Look Back In Bangor
7.Backpacking Centurion Volume 2 – Lands Down Under
8.Backpacking Centurion Volume 3 – Taints and Honours
9.Backpacking Centurion Volume 4 – The Black Volume
10.My Journey to Poland (it has a title though) – unreleased.
11.After the Hat-trick – unreleased.
12.ChampIAN STEWARTnova – unreleased.
13.Jonny Blair Poetry – 1,000 songs from 1,000 cities.
25.Release my book on the Northern Ireland football team
My long awaited book on the Northern Ireland football team is STILL not out. Yet it’s finished. It’s coming home, and it’s coming home soon I hope. The problem is never with the writer. Writers write and write. The problem is always with the publisher and the seller…the name of the book is ChampIAN STEWARTnova.
26.Write 40 Things I didn’t do by the age of 40
I failed even on this article, on this blog post…I was supposed to write 40 (exactly FORTY) things I didn’t do by the age of 40, but I didn’t think of 40. I even stretched 25 out a bit here. So I failed to not write about 40 things I didn’t do by the age of 40, that should be a good thing right?
Who knows. Nobody really knows.
“I’m gonna take it on the other side” – Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Do I want to do all these by the age of 50?
Some of them yes. Get married and have children would be top of this list of course and any list in life.
That is the only real dream any of us should ever have. Backpacking the world was more over-rated than Pele.
“Love remains the drug that’s the high and not the pill” – Seal.