(1) recording an album of my songs;
(2) writing an episode of Doctor Who;
(3) earning a living as a writer/artist;
(4) learning to play the piano (I only ever got as high as Grade 1);
(5) inventing a new word that enters the English language (an odd ambition I admit); and
(6) being the recipient of a Blue Peter badge.
I had better explain that last one for my non-British coterie of chums.
Blue Peter is the longest-running children's TV show in the UK and, I believe, the world. It celebrates its 50th consecutive year on air this coming week. The name of the show comes from a naval signalling flag that indicates that a ship is about to set sail; the idea was that the show should be a voyage of discovery for children and, sure enough, its magazine-style format of features, adventures and guest interviews has remained pretty much unchanged for half a century. As such, it has become a national institution; as much an icon of Britishness as red London buses, the crown jewels and lager-fuelled tattooed chavs fighting in the street on Friday night.
As a child I was always an avid viewer because Blue Peter was always so damned interesting. It would have presenter John Noakes doing some mad stunt like skydiving or cleaning Nelson's Column. It would have fascinating historical features about the Great Fire of London or the English Civil War - sometimes our hosts would even dress up. In one notable 1980s episode, during a feature on the history of corsetry, Maggie Philbin appeared in stockings and suspenders. We all watched that episode a few times, I can tell you.
Every year, the presenters went on a foreign trip and brought us back images and stories of what life was like in other countries. And every week, one of these familiar, friendly TV personalities would demonstrate how to make something from garbage; things like desktop pen-holders from toilet roll cardboard tubes or space rockets from 'squeezy' washing-up liquid bottles and sticky-backed plastic (being the BBC, they weren't allowed to mention brand names like Fairy Liquid or Fablon). With their catchphrase of 'Here's one we made earlier', they encouraged us to be artistic and crafty and creative and to give these home-made delights to our bemused relatives for Christmas and birthdays. It was, and still is, a fantastic show.
Over the years there have been many notable incidents, some of which have become a part of televisual history. Like the day that Lulu the baby elephant came to visit ...
Or the day that Simon Groom made this fabulous comment ...
We laughed when Mark Curry crashed a miniature traction engine into the scenery. We roared when the Girl Guides' campfire got out of hand during the 1970 Christmas special. We were outraged when vandals destroyed the Blue Peter Garden. And we were sad when Janet Ellis left the show because, allegedly, the frumpy old BBC considered that her status as an unwed mother-to-be made her position untenable (the baby she was carrying grew up to be pop star Sophie Ellis-Bextor). With its twice-weekly TV slot, generations of presenters, Blue Peter pets, and its oh-so familiar format Blue Peter has become an integral part of the British way of life.
All of which brings me to the badges. Throughout its long history, the show has awarded the much-coveted Blue Peter badge to children who have done notable things or to adults who have appeared on the show. These badges are treasured keepsakes and allow children into a range of theme parks, museums and other attractions for free (which, with the advent of e-bay, became a real issue. Read the story here). The badge is shaped like a shield and is white with a stylised blue sailing ship on it. It is, like the programme, so iconic as to be instantly recognisable by most British TV viewers. And they've often found their way into other TV series. Rick (Rik Mayall) wore one in The Young Ones and Ace (Sophie Aldred) sported one on her jacket during Sylvester McCoy's tenure as the Doctor in Doctor Who.
In recent years, a number of colour-coded badges have been introduced (see here) but the blue and white logo has remained fairly constant. So you can therefore imagine my excitement when this envelope plopped onto my doorstep this morning.
I tore it open in barely restrained excitement, read the enclosed letter and then gazed in wonder upon my shiny new Blue Peter badge. And not just any old Blue Peter badge either; it's the limited edition special 50th anniversary gold badge! I went all wobbly at the knees and needed a sit down with a good, strong cup of Earl Grey. At last! After all of these years!
So it's not an Academy Award or a Nobel Prize. But it is something that, while less important, probably means more to me. But why O Colgan, I hear you cry, have you now been awarded a badge? Well, I won't go into all the details (long-time fan ... childhood ambitions ... awards ... philanthropy ... police ... charity work ... I've just written a book that mentions Blue Peter in glowingly nostalgic terms etc.) but, yes, basically it was a begging letter. I'm not proud of that.
I ended with 'Please can I have a Blue Peter badge. Stevyn Colgan aged 47¼ '.
'Make an old man happy', I said. And, bless them, they did.
Now, the album ... I've made a start with my co-writer Huw Williams and I'm starting piano lessons next year. There's a possibility that I may be able to earn a living from writing and artwork and, as for writing for Doctor Who, let's just say that I'm closer to it now than I ever have been before. As for my new English word, I'm still yembling that one.
But I do, finally, have a Blue Peter badge. Ooh, I've gone all wobbly again.