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Offbeat – 01 February 2013

http://pierremare.blogspot.com

 

Whatever happened to the business of hobbies? When last did you hear the word, and what are they nowadays? I mean, do you get stamp collectors now and, given the whole thing of e-mail, from where do they get their stamps?

Remember those guys who used to collect stamps. They were always a mystery to me. I got a stamp album once and a packet of stamps. I put the stamps into their special flaps, but nothing happened. There was no sense of satisfaction. That was my first attempt at a hobby.
I considered other things. Collecting butterflies didn’t appeal. The idea of sticking needles through the things horrified me. What could they have done to deserve that? I spent a couple of semesters going to drawing and design classes. It didn’t stick at the time. Eventually I discovered beer. That lasted for more than a decade, but didn’t do any good for me.
At school, the idea of hobbies kept coming back, like a homing pigeon, with one leg and mange, or whatever horrifying disease that birds contract. It was a bit like the whole thing of declination in German grammar for spotty boys in Standard Five. Sink into your seat, get your head down and hope that the teacher pays attention to the stamp collectors and butterfly murderers sitting at the front of the class.
I suppose the idea was to get some kind of balance into kids who thought about not much more than going to the army, balls and the girls who sat in the two rows by the windows. I think I can respect that idea now, but at the time, I felt entirely thick for not having an interest in edifying stuff, not even football, shooting and the girls sitting way, way over there.
The things that really got me going, war comics and sci-fi novels, weren’t the sort of thing that you could admit to without getting dirty looks from ‘Sir’ or ‘Miss’. I was a member of an underground movement of me and the other guy in the class who liked that sort of stuff.
It got really tricky when the whole business of finding employment showed up on the horizon. How do you list your hobbies as war comics, sci-fi novels and beer, especially when you are going head to head with a guy who has collected stamps since the age of three? It’s not all that easy to keep a straight face when you have to say something like, “I’m waiting for something edifying to show up, but in the meanwhile I’m an expert beer taster every night from about two minutes after I leave the office.”
Whatever happened to the business of hobbies? When last did you hear the word, and what are they nowadays? I mean, do you get stamp collectors now and, given the whole thing of e-mail, from where do they get their stamps?
I have read a bit about ‘scrapbooking’. That seems quite creative, but not for me. I have a desk and desk drawers that are perfect for keeping old things that I don’t need and can’t figure out why they were so important to me when I decided not to chuck them away.
The biggest post-millennial hobby at the moment seems to be gadgets. People buy them, show off with them and then buy new ones on a couple of months when the next variant shows up. Judging by the hype and hysteria, people who own older devices are devalued as human beings, are perhaps too afraid to show their faces out of doors.
From my point of view, I must be something that belongs under a rock. Not only is it over two years old, but I haven’t yet figured out how to switch off my mobile device, so I end up taking the battery out.
Perhaps, when all the hype is over, collecting devices will take on the dignity of stamp collecting, with iterations of the gadgets being put on display in living rooms, and regularly dusted. People who had similar gadget fetishes will visit one another’s houses to admire the things. “Oh, look! You have the XK100 64 MB with the Pukey Sandwich OS. I always wanted one of those, but I only got the 32 MB version with Bouncy Banana.”
The days of hobbies now seem numbered. Humanity has devices and things to watch on screens of various sizes. Perhaps, not so long from now, having a hobby will be relegated to the realm of eccentricity. If you have any of those old war comics, the small War Picture Library or Sergeant Rock numbers, let me know. I’ll be happy to give them a loving home.

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