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Post by The Fourth Lion on Mon 14 Apr 2014, 7:08 pm

When the BBC televised the annual trooping of the colour parade last June, the BBC commentators also ran some old footage of days gone by when the Queen would take part on horseback, riding side-saddle to review the troops.  Even in grainy old black and white it could be seen that on those occasions, her majesty was clearly enjoying herself.

The Queen loves horses.  Everybody knows that.  She was able to ride by the age of 3 and now, in her late 80's she still reads the Racing Post at Breakfast every day, though not as a punter but as an expert.  Her racing advisor remarks on her intense knowledge of a dozen or so thoroughbred bloodlines.  Others comment on her detailed learning of equine training, ailments, temperament and nutrition.

I'm glad she knows all these things, not because it has anything to do with her royal duties or affairs of State, but because it is a joyful thing.  It gives her pleasure.  It reminds us of an often ignored, much mocked and even sometimes despised source of human happiness..... That of being a hobbyist.

Being a hobbyist, that is, being focused, knowledgeable or possibly even marginally obsessive is something that is often contemptuously labelled as being an "anorak" after the alleged preferred outfit of the trainspotter.

In some cases, the level of knowledge of a subject acquired by hobbyists can be almost professional.  Some can talk for hours about the different types of wood they use for carving, or what size engine is needed to propel a model boat through the water.  For some their hobby is an private fascination that they would do anyway but have somehow, by luck or cunning, made into doing for a living.  Good for them, I say.

In its purest, happiest form, having a hobby is a sideline, a chosen delight.  Although it can be, or may be close to being, your job.  Some will stray after working hours into unprofitable avenues of their interest.  A mechanic who spends his working day repairing other people's cars may go home to his shed and work on rebuilding an old Norton, filled with joy when he finds yet another obsolete part on E-Bay.

My own love of skiing , rekindled in the last few years, has become my hobby.  I follow it during the winter months with passion, I practice at a local dry slope and put away my pennies for winter holidays on the slopes somewhere in Europe.  This participation has shown me the fierce but innocent joys of hobbyism.  

I've read of a man who built a one-man hovercraft and rides it on the lake near his house.  There is a group who have built their own Canadian dog sleds, only with wheels instead of skis, and race them around local woodland shouting "Haikon" and "yee-haw".  In the 1980's, so I've read, one man made a beautiful and intricate scale model of York Minster out of matchsticks.  He found in the task a sense of solace during the miner's strike.

I have come to realise the confidence and comradeship of shared intense interests and have felt the pleasure that comes from it after, say, a particularly exhilarating afternoon on the slopes, although I recognise that in other areas, some people are much more intensely involved than I.  My level of participation in my chosen pastime might not be on a par with, say, those who love tall ships and smilingly tolerate people who titter vapidly at terms such as "Futtock Shroud".

There is a certain innocent purity about those who are interested in any given area of activity and go deeply into it for no motive of gain or fame.  It is the scholarship of the common man.  I say "man" because it is mostly associated with men.  I once heard a female colleague opine that for any woman's marriage to be truly successful her husband should have either a den or a shed.  But women are becoming more involved.  Some argue that this is because domestic duties are lighter these day, although I think women have always been prone to bouts of happy-mania.  Just check out any photos you can find of 1950's quilting exhibitions...!!

I hope that the age of internet distraction, with its information overload and gossiping tweets about shallow celebrity culture doesn't damage this fine human quality.  I frown a little when people snigger at "anoraks.  I have no intention of weaving my own trousers out of cat hair or making a model Parthenon from sea shells but I have no quarrel with those who do.

I'm somewhat disapproving of Have I Got News For You (which I generally enjoy and find quite funny) when it announces as its' guest publication Coal Scuttle Monthly or Railway Wally.  The implication is that the readers of those journals are lesser people than the show's parade of tuppenny ha'penny celebrities with a one gag attention span, laughing like hysterical hyenas at Sally Bercow's latest betise.  Their implied contempt feels more alien to me than ordinary people who never miss an issue of Goat Harness Monthly.  Also, in fiction, people who indulge in hobbies are often portrayed as emotionally wanting, if not actually serial killers.

These fallacies are cheap and foolish.  Why don't we just leave the good old British hobbyist alone?  They aren't harming anybody and probably have a greater sense of personal fulfilment than most.  At least the amateur model maker has created something.

So.... whatever you may  be making in your shed or garage or den this weekend, I salute you.  Enjoy.
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Post by guildfordbat on Mon 14 Apr 2014, 7:32 pm

Lion - I would comment more supportively but I'm really too busy analysing Surrey's second eleven squad for their friendly starting tomorrow at Guildford and rearranging my work so I can get along.

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Post by Corporalhumblebucket on Mon 14 Apr 2014, 10:50 pm

guildfordbat wrote:Lion - I would comment more supportively but I'm really too busy analysing Surrey's second eleven squad for their friendly starting tomorrow .....
 clap  Very Happy

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Post by The Fourth Lion on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 4:14 am

guildfordbat wrote:Lion - I would comment more supportively but I'm really too busy analysing Surrey's second eleven squad for their friendly starting tomorrow at Guildford and rearranging my work so I can get along.


Good man. Carry on.

Just make sure you get every players' batting or bowling average right. These things are important.
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Post by Galted on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 7:18 am

Interesting read 4L.

I've never owned a den or a shed which is probably quite a good thing as my hobby (until my mid-twenties anyway) was serial killers (mainly building up an encyclopedic knowledge of). If library books or types of books are flagged as certain films suggest I may yet be in for some awkward questions from the authorities.
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Post by kingraf on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 8:21 am

I live in an apartment, so I don't own a shed, or a den. But I do fancy myself a bit of a watchmaker. I made my first watch a year ago, was rather basic, battery operated. Took about three months. Making a new one, mechanical, about three months in, and I'm in the process of breaking down in tears, due to the escalating costs, and setbacks.
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Post by The Fourth Lion on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 11:44 am

Galted..... Kingraf.... Gentlemen.... thank you for your responses. It's always interesting to hear what others enjoy.

Watchmaking is a very precise skill, Kingraf and I admire your patience and perseverance. I certainly could never make anything as fine and precise as a timepiece. I'm sure you'll get there in the end and all the expense and effort will have been worthwhile.

The only tip I would offer Galted is, however much you may have learned about criminology and the modus operandi of serial killers, please don't succumb to any temptation to emulate their practices.... even if you think you could do it better. I think the authorities certainly would take an interest in that and it could culminate in your spending a great deal of time in the future amongst others who share the same fascination, albeit for less academic reasons.
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Post by Rowley on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 12:07 pm

Whilst I would agree with your general assertion Lion that such pursuits tend to be the preserve of men, speaking as someone whose interest in boxing books and obscure boxing literature almost certainly classes as geeky I can attest such pursuits are far easier indulged in with the support of a very understanding other half. I have an inability to walk past a second hand book shop that is now almost ingrained. TSMR’s willingness and ability to wait patiently whilst I scour the shelves on the off chance of finding something interesting never ceases to amaze me.

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Post by Galted on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 12:33 pm

Rowley wrote:Whilst I would agree with your general assertion Lion that such pursuits tend to be the preserve of men, speaking as someone whose interest in boxing books and obscure boxing literature almost certainly classes as geeky I can attest such pursuits are far easier indulged in with the support of a very understanding other half. I have an inability to walk past a second hand book shop that is now almost ingrained. TSMR’s willingness and ability to wait patiently whilst I scour the shelves on the off chance of finding something interesting never ceases to amaze me.

You should have a wander along Charing Cross Road (mainly between Litchfield St & Great Newport St) next time you're in the Republic of London.  Loads of bookshops full of books too old to be secondhand.  I found one on the moths of greater London or something similar.
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Post by Rowley on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 12:38 pm

Cheers for the tip Galted. Do tend to just come down for work purposes, but really should try and make some time to do as you propose next time round, as much as I hate London I would be fairly confident it is better stocked for such things than Rotherham town centre.

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Post by Guest on Tue 15 Apr 2014, 1:45 pm

Galted wrote:Interesting read 4L.

I've never owned a den or a shed which is probably quite a good thing as my hobby (until my mid-twenties anyway) was serial killers (mainly building up an encyclopedic knowledge of).  If library books or types of books are flagged as certain films suggest I may yet be in for some awkward questions from the authorities.
You're merely an amateur lad, wait till you do the advanced practical.

Can attest to the glory that is Charing Cross Road and it's proliferation of book shops (including "Murder One" owned by writer, critic and all round crackpot Maxim Jakubowski). I went many years ago looking for a couple of books by James Crumley...somehow (your Worships) inadevertantly found myself in Soho and the second hand bookshops tended to pay lip service to the idea of being book shops as after about three feet of fiction your subject matter turned from crime fiction to hardcore porn and bestiality.

Still, when in Rome and all that.

Years ago, my collection of crime fiction was quite extensive but marriage and family life have all but curtailed my opportunities to read anything other than nursery rhymes etc (although I can now count to fifteen with a bit of help)

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Post by kingraf on Wed 16 Apr 2014, 7:14 am

The Fourth Lion wrote:Galted..... Kingraf.... Gentlemen.... thank you for your responses. It's always interesting to hear what others enjoy.

Watchmaking is a very precise skill, Kingraf and I admire your patience and perseverance. I certainly could never make anything as fine and precise as a timepiece. I'm sure you'll get there in the end and all the expense and effort will have been worthwhile.

Thanks mate - it is a real labour of love. Had a bit of help and assistance from Tag Heuer SA at a workshop, but it is incredibly difficult.

Not much of an art fan, but I'm going to a viewing of Pascal Cotte's Mona Lisa Unveiled this weekend, or the next - apparently reveals 25 secrets about the Mona Lisa. Any art connoisseurs who can give me a few tips to not make me look out of place? I've heard a few saying revealing secrets of the Mona Lisa is pornographic, so do I get Artiste points if I scream "This is Pornography" and throw my french artist beret on the floor?
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Post by Galted on Wed 16 Apr 2014, 7:50 am

kingraf wrote:
The Fourth Lion wrote:Galted..... Kingraf.... Gentlemen....  thank you for your responses.  It's always interesting to hear what others enjoy.  

Watchmaking is a very precise skill, Kingraf and I admire your patience and perseverance.  I certainly could never make anything as fine and precise as a timepiece.  I'm sure you'll get there in the end and all the expense and effort will have been worthwhile.

Thanks mate - it is a real labour of love. Had a bit of help and assistance from Tag Heuer SA at a workshop, but it is incredibly difficult.

Not much of an art fan, but I'm going to a viewing of Pascal Cotte's Mona Lisa Unveiled this weekend, or the next - apparently reveals 25 secrets about the Mona Lisa. Any art connoisseurs who can give me a few tips to not make me look out of place? I've heard a few saying revealing secrets of the Mona Lisa is pornographic, so do I get Artiste points if I scream "This is Pornography" and throw my french artist beret on the floor?

Try not to say that you've heard that it seems like she's looking at you wherever you stand in the room.

Went to the display of two of van Gogh's Sunflowers at the National Gallery last week.  Don't think I earned too much in the way of kudos by pointing out that the xrays taken of them were more impressive than the paintings themselves.
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Post by Guest on Wed 16 Apr 2014, 1:50 pm

Shouting "Banksy p!sses all over this sh!t" is my tip for you.

Other gems would include screaming...

"That's not pornography...you can't see her flaps!"

or
"That's not pornography...THIS is pornography" then pause briefly to reveal Rolf Harris's hidden portfolio


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