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
Imagination Quotient tests could lead to smartphone app that boosts your creativity
Reader dilemma: 'My boyfriend jokes about putting photos of us having sex on Facebook'
The Gay Beards: Whiskers as you've never seen them before
Asexuality: when life isn't all about sex
Twitter deletes plagiarised jokes for 'copyright infringement'
The 9 charts that show the 'left-wing' policies of Jeremy Corbyn the public actually agrees with
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
The last thing Labour needs is a leader like Jeremy Corbyn who people want to vote for
What the Labour party could look like under Jeremy Corbyn
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
- 1 Reader dilemma: 'My boyfriend jokes about putting photos of us having sex on Facebook'
- 2 Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta clashes with President Obama on LGBT equality: ‘Gay rights is really a non-issue’
- 3 37-year-old black woman found dead in police custody
- 4 Kanye West praises Caitlyn Jenner on I Am Cait: 'You couldn't have been up against more'
- 5 Five-year-old boy forced classmate to simulate oral sex at primary school, claims mother
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Junior IT Support Technician ...
£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides actionabl...
Negotiable depending on experience, plus benefits: Guru Careers: We are seekin...
£16000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...