A friend and I got talking about how to measure whether your life was different to everyone else’s and we came up with a framework where we score a point for each thing we’ve done that most other people haven’t done.
My friend went to Afghanistan with the Parachute Regiment. His life has been quite different to most people’s. I think my life was quite different too.
Left home at 16.
Evacuated from a burning building.
Fallen from the bridge of a ship.
Emigrated multiple times. Four countries. Three states. 13 cities.
Drunk 34 drinks in an evening (all of different colours).
Jumped off Bournemouth Pier.
Fired a torpedo on a Polaris submarine.
Met the Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Bill Gates.
Won a silver medal in the London Area Sea Cadets rowing regatta.
Was CEO of a Silicon Valley startup.
Flew out of the side of the half-pipe at Squaw Valley on a snowboard and landed on my arse.
Invited to a funeral by the Most Beautiful Girl in Moorea, French Polynesia.
Been apprehended by the police for scrumping.
Loaded a Mk8 4.5in gun during 300 rounds of Naval Gunfire Support.
Been chased by a fur seal in South Georgia.
Scratched Prince Andrew’s car.
Took my girlfriend to Saturday Morning Pictures on the bus every Saturday when we were eight. She was crowned Miss ABC Cinema by the prime minister, Ted Heath.
Met Vice President Biden at the White House.
Was pinched on the bottom by a German girl while swimming on the Great Barrier Reef. She thought I had previously pinched her bottom but it was a sunfish. I thought I was being bitten by a sunfish.
Slept on Waterloo Station when I missed the last train home after a well-lubricated evening at The Goose and Firkin.
Invited to a White House meeting with Vice President Biden.
Fired an anti-aircraft gun at an aircraft.
Hitchhiked across Australia. Sydney to Cairns. Cairns to Darwin. The driver knew a shortcut.
Ran out of money in Tahiti and survived for three days on mangos & coconuts straight from the tree.
When my parents divorced, my mother married the next-door neighbour. So did my father.
Walked 100 miles barefoot through the Thai jungle because I lost a shoe getting off the bus.
Was a first responder in a fire on a nuclear submarine.
Was at a party — The infamous Sozzlehurst and Hiccup party — that made the front page of every newspaper in the land.
Been interviewed by the mayor of Raiatea who kindly suggested where I might be able to pitch my tent.
Part of a team that won a Duke’s Choice Award.
Been chased by a Komodo dragon in Komodo.
Slid down the metal strip between the escalators at Waterloo underground station.
Got married on the beach in Jamaica.
Ran out of money in Flores, Indonesia and persuaded the airline to let me fly to the nearest city with a bank for free.
Made a bomb from magnesium dust and homemade gunpowder. Injuries were not too severe.
Slept on the beach for a week on Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
Ate homemade crushed beetles with chilli in the jungle.
Been buzzed by a hostile Argentinian jet.
Been mugged in Amsterdam.
Almost tripped over an elephant seal on South Georgia.
Went to London on the bus for the day with my next-door neighbour. I was 10, he was 8.
The engine fell out the bottom of our van on a backroad in Queensland. Waited 8 hours for the next car to drive by and rescue us.
Snuck into Burma (twice) when the border was closed.
Been on the cover of a magazine.
Was responsible, as a 21-year-old petty officer, for all but one of the sonar systems on a Polaris submarine at sea.
Been to the Top of the Rock in Gibraltar. A Barbary Ape stole my camera.
Was banned from all four pubs in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands.
Rode an Elephant through the Thai jungle.
Rode a homemade raft down a Thai river.
Woke up at the end of the District Line on the last train.
Got snowed in for a week in Manhattan.
Was the only member of Greenpeace on my Polaris submarine.
Won a gold medal in the South East London shooting competition.
Held the hand of a loved one as she died.
Details available on request.
So maybe one way to think about it to make it seem less crazy would be to put it in a context of thinking about that as a kind of outlier decision among a large field of decisions where I am more open and risk-taking than other people. I’m sort of seeing more possibilities of what to do.
Even just when I walk down the street, and if there’s a little ledge, I’ll tend to walk on the ledge because it’s more fun. And I notice other people don’t do that.
Callard claims that, because she feels less constrained by convention than other people, she gets to try things that other people don’t think to do and, as a result, has more fun.
The fact that I walk on the ledges and other people just walk on the sidewalk. It’s fun. When I walk down the street, sometimes I skip, sometimes I dance. I’ve noticed other people don’t do that. So I get to have more fun than other people, because I’m seizing these possibilities that are there.
Callard decided to become a philosopher to rein in some of her wilder instincts. Maybe I should try that next.