Good food is the way to bid goodbye to this world – Stephen Jardine

Of all the things he could have selected, it was an odd choice. When Darrell Meekcom was diagnosed with a terminal condition, he decided to draw up a bucket list of things he wanted to do in the time left.
A good steak, with skinny fries and Béarnaise sauce is a meal to be savoured (Picture: Miguel Mendez/AFP via Getty Images)A good steak, with skinny fries and Béarnaise sauce is a meal to be savoured (Picture: Miguel Mendez/AFP via Getty Images)
A good steak, with skinny fries and Béarnaise sauce is a meal to be savoured (Picture: Miguel Mendez/AFP via Getty Images)

In Darrell’s case this included exposing his bottom to a speed camera, a move that led to his arrest on suspicion of indecent exposure and dangerous driving. Each to their own, who are we to judge?

Kudos to Darrell for at least being brave, even if it did get him a visit from the police. Whenever you see bucket lists published, they always seem to feature the same slightly tame, disappointing choices, like learning macramé or being in the audience for The One Show.

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Hugh Paton had the right idea. After a cancer diagnosis, he contacted food critic Jay Rayner and asked for his top ten places to eat in the UK. Hugh specifically didn’t want fancy gastronomic experiences that would stay with him for the rest of his life because, frankly, there wasn’t much of that left. Instead he requested tips for a few decent meals as a good way to spend some of his remaining time.

Jay made some suggestions and also shared the request with his army of followers on social media and the result was a deluge of suggestions from people all over the country. Kind chefs also stepped forward to offer Hugh lunch on them. As Mister Rogers used to say, “when you are in trouble, look for the helpers – you will always find people who are helping”.

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Sadly, Hugh only made it to three restaurants on the list before his life ended. His gusto for life should be a lesson to us all.

Last month a great friend of mine received a shattering diagnosis.

Down the years, we’ve shared wonderful times and amazing meals. One memorable night in Paris, feeling very relaxed, we decided to try and bring some order to the chaos of the giant roundabout at the Arc D’Triomphe.

That evening we learned three things. Directing traffic is not as easy as it seems. Wearing black in the middle of the road at midnight is a bad idea. And French drivers don’t respond well to being told what to do by two staggering Scotsmen.

I hope he has the time left to revisit that exercise. Next time, I’ll bring a torch and high-visibility vests for us both. I’ve also been thinking about all the other bucket list experiences he might like.

Mooning a speed camera is not really his thing so I’ll stick to what I know he will like. We will go for the hottest curry imaginable. Even with illness, he will laugh that off while I sweat like Prince Andrew would if he could.

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We will go and eat seafood even though oysters and mussels make me sick. What is one night of discomfort in the grand scheme of things? It’s the tastes and experiences that make us feel alive. And we will eat steaks as big as our plates, piled high with skinny fries and Béarnaise sauce.

I hope we have time together for all this and much more and if we come across a speed camera on the way home one night, well, you never know.

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