Real Living: Man's World
Journalist and novelist Andrew Martin is the author of the 'Jim Stringer' series of novels based around railways. He has written for the Independent on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times and the New Statesman among others.
Sunday 16 August 1998
She's right, of course. In these days of expanded leisure time, almost everyone's got a hobby, if not more than one. Look at the people on Masterchef. Not only do they have the hobby of cooking (remember, Masterchef is for amateurs only), but several others besides, so that Lloyd Grossman can say: "When not slaving erver a hot sterve, Julie loves nothing more than hanggloyding off the Cairngorms."
If I went on to The Generation Game, what would Jim Davidson be hilariously funny about? And just imagine my entry in Who's Who: "Recreations: none." My lack of a hobby must be the only thing stopping the compilers from putting me in, although, if pushed, I could come up with something. I go to the pub quite a lot, so I could say "appreciation of fine ales", or "involvement with the local community".
I'm aware of the argument that hobbies are for anally retentive, petit- bourgeois men who belong in a Mike Leigh play, but I don't agree with it. After all, Martin Amis has hobbies (tennis, chess), as does Prince Charles (he has nothing else when you come to think of it).
I've always been desperate to find a hobby, and I think it's nothing less than my duty as a bloke to have one. Otherwise what happens? You spend too much time thinking, and that's unhealthy for a man. Being known as a hobbyist carries the implication that one is decisive, busy and well organised. I'd like people to be able to say: "Andrew Martin? He's that journalist bloke. Big fisherman; keen ice skater too ... and has he shown you that cathedral he built out of used matchsticks?"
The hobby I eventually settle on will involve a lot of jargon, the beauty of which is that it stops you having to make proper conversation, which I find myself increasingly unable to do. People say "How are you?", and I just think: oh bugger off, will you? University's the time for all that existential stuff. What I want, like Mr Gradgrind, is the facts, and hobbies can supply these.
I love, for example, the conversation of golfers: "Dave's getting 180 yards out of his eight iron, you know."
"Really? I thought he could barely muster 150 out of a two wood, and by the way is it true that you halved the fourth with Jimmy on the 26th?"
But then again, maybe I'll never settle on anything. As a boy, I took up (and dropped) hobbies on an almost weekly basis, always with the idea of converting them into a glorious career. I dreamt of being the most glamourous stamp collector the world had ever known; or feted on all sides for the breathtaking quality of my trainspotting. But now these options are not open to me: anything that I take up as a hobby will remain a hobby, and I will remain a duffer at it, because I will have left it too late. (Have you noticed, incidentally, how those crown green bowlers are looking younger every year?) No, I guess I've got to face the fact that I lack a sufficient amount of the true hobbyist's primary characteristic: humility.
Life & Style blogs
What marriage would look like if we actually followed the Bible
iPhone 6s photos leak shows new phone will be thicker than iPhone 6, could make cases defunct
Women really are more attracted to men who make them laugh, study finds
Worrying about your weight makes you more likely to pile on the pounds, researchers claim
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 250,000 back our campaign
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 1 Refugee crisis: Sweden the only European country with a majority favourable towards non-EU immigration
- 2 'Heartbreaking' Syria orphan photo wasn't taken in Syria and not of orphan
- 3 Malnourished two-year-old found being breastfed by dog in Chile
- 4 Bob Geldof offers to take four refugee families into his home 'immediately' as he condemns humanitarian crisis as a ‘f**king disgrace'
- 5 YouTube video shows woman verbally abusing takeaway staff 'because they used green peppers'
£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...
£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...
£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...
£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...