100 Things You Honestly DON'T Have to Do Before You Die
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"OMG, you have to watch Breaking Bad! You simply have to. Stop whatever you're doing and watch it right now. Stop resuscitating that patient, and watch Breaking Bad. Stop flying that plane, crash it into that field and fire up Netflix."
As I understand it, we are now all legally obliged to watch Breaking Bad. Our prisons are already full to bursting with people who failed to watch The West Wing or The Wirewhen they were expressly told to. I even saw a woman prosecuted last week for not having read Gone Girl. What was she thinking?
These days we are told we simply have to watch, to read or just to do, very many things: 100 Things to Do Before You Die; 100 Films You Have to See, 100 Books You Must Read If You Don't Want Everyone at Work to Realise Exactly What a Shallow, Self-Obsessed, X Factor Fan You Really Are.
I am very keen to do what I'm told at all times. If I'm told there are 25 Must-Dive Reefs or 30 Loganberry Recipes You Can't Live Without then I take that responsibility very seriously and immediately go out shopping for scuba equipment and soft fruit.
But, while I can't stress enough that I don't wish to be a troublemaker, there is a slight problem with the maths.
The average human being will live for 701,844 hours. You will be asleep for 233,600 of those hours (more if you're a cricket fan). You will be working for 74,060 hours (fewer if you're Usain Bolt) and you'll be waiting for your children to hurry up and get their shoes on for 11,850.
Take off another 200,000 hours for miscellaneous activities such as being on hold for broadband customer service, queuing at Costa Coffee, or looking up pictures of your ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend on Facebook.
You suddenly find yourself with just 182,334 useful hours in your life for reading, watching films and baking your signature Loganberry Pecan Flapjacks.
But it gets worse. Given that you are reading this you are, let's be honest, at least 40. If you were under 40 you'd be reading the cheat codes for Grand Theft Auto V instead (FYI, the dirt-bike code is Circle, X, L1, Circle, Circle, L1, Circle, R1, R2, L2, L1, L1). This means your available hours now stand at 91,167. That's what you have left. Just over 90,000 hours. To do everything.
So, Breaking Bad should be a breeze: just 61 hours, or 0.000667% of the rest of your life. And – I don't know if you've heard – apparently it's amazing.
But if you wanted to watch every episode of the Guardian's Top 50 TV series of all time, that would take up another 2,080 of your precious hours. Add in two new series a year – every year – that you simply have to watch, and that's a further 4,000 hours. Then add in The Great British Bake Off and, in all, that's around 6,130 hours of television you simply have to see. That's nearly 7% of your available life
Watching every film on the BFI's list of The Greatest Films of All Time will take you 217 hours (with an extra half-hour if you want to watch the hilarious "blooper reel" at the end of Citizen Kane). You will also have to watch at least one new film a month that Charlotte at work keeps banging on about, and one foreign-language film a month because Peter Bradshaw has called it "a stunning new benchmark for Latvian cinema". That takes your total for films you simply have to see up to 2,233 hours.