Thursday, 13 October 2011
There are people in the world who think I am weird; they are easy to spot – they are breathing.
Perhaps their perception of me is a little unfair. I may be weird but there are far stranger people than me roaming the Earth.
How do I know?
I was watching QI on Friday and was introduced to the concept of worm charming, a hobby that I can only describe as very peculiar (and I am being very kind when I write this). One of the contestants had a look on his face that said it all:
“You sad, sad people – for God’s sake GET A LIFE!”
It got me thinking – what other bizarre hobbies are out there?
I will confess to a couple of strange pastimes I have embraced in my life – but not now. First, I want you to read about some odd leisure activities that Mr Google told me about.
Let’s start with the one I encountered on QI:
I don’t like worms. I’ve never liked them. I never will. Yet there are people out there who spend their free time trying to entice them out of the ground. I can understand somebody doing this if he is fishing and has run out of bait but doing it for fun? That is ridiculous. Mind you, I think fishing is another ridiculous hobby – but that’s another story.
Nevertheless, I share a country where armies of people do this for fun. People gather in fields, armed with various implements which they use to hit the ground (apparently to simulate rain) in an attempt to tempt the worms to surface.
And then they count them. And the people who have collected the most worms are the winners. I've heard about competition but that is ridiculous.
There are a group of people who keep them as pets and a subgroup who like to wander over to fields filled with plastic pipes and race their pets against each other. I can’t think of anything more tedious myself. I would prefer to starve a ferret for a couple of days and then stick it down the trousers of those who race them; Sadly, there are people who do that already. Apparently the record is over five hours. Words fail me.
Looking for Mythical Creatures
Some people are not content with unusual hobbies with odd creatures. There are a number of people worldwide who simply are not satisfied with something as mundane as luring a worm out of its nice cosy little home of soil. These people think big and think outside the box. Why be content with a ferret when you can have the Loch Ness Monster? Yes, there are people in the world whose hobby is to sit patiently on the shores of a Scottish Loch waiting for a monster; or tramping through the forests of America searching for Big Foot; or risking life and limb in the Himalayas in search of a Yeti. I wouldn’t mind, but the photos I’ve seen of dear old Nessie are totally unconvincing. I could draw a more convincing picture myself. Here’s a message from me to people who believe that the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot and the Yeti exist:
They DO NOT exist. If they did then we would have found them by now. Find another hobby.
There are people who are worse than Nessie hunters; people who aren’t satisfied with searching for mythical creatures on planet Earth; people who take blue sky thinking to the extreme. UFO spotters are utterly convinced that we are being scrutinised, kidnapped and experimented on by aliens from another world. Utter poppycock. I love science fiction but it is incredible to me that aliens are zooming around our skies looking for rednecks to experiment on.
I knew a UFO spotter at university and he was so confident that aliens were roaming the heavens waiting for the right moment to come down and conquer us all, that he spent time at night with telescopes and binoculars hunting them in the skies. I told him that life was not like Star Trek. Talking of which …
I have to confess that I am a Star Trek fan. However, I have drawn a line. I watch it on TV and that’s the end of it. To some people it is a religion; some people think it is REAL. One guy I used to work with turned up to work with a manual for the Starship Enterprise, describing in detail how the various of the components of a fictional space craft work. I can’t believe he bought it. I can’t believe anybody actually went to the trouble to WRITE it. At least he drew the line at walking around dressed as a Klingon, speaking Klingon and calling himself Thwaktok.
I hate ironing. It is one of the most tedious chores that I have to do. I have tried to bribe Mrs PM to do my ironing but she hates it even more than I do. Some people love it. Some people love it so much that they want to do it in weird places under extreme conditions. In my mind, extreme ironing involves brain surgery – i.e. remove the “common sense” nodule of the brain alongside the “recognising boredom” lobe. Extreme ironing enthusiasts are missing something. Why iron on the top of a mountain, at the bottom of a lake or while hang gliding? If you don’t believe me, here is proof.
Eddie Stobart Lorry Spotters
I was horrified to discover that there actually is a hobby that is sadder than trainspotting. I’ve always questioned why people stand on railway platforms in the middle of winter recording serial numbers of locomotives. These days, the politically correct term for these sad people is “railway enthusiast”. They will always be trainspotters to me. Nevertheless, even lower down the scale than these dreary people are those who drive up and down the motorways of England looking for Eddie Stobart lorries. Eddie Stobart has a fleet of lorries each of which has a name like “Abbey Louise” and “Pamela Jane” and the idea is that you stand by the motorway or drive up and down the length of country recording them as you see them. How sad is that? Eddie Stobart is based in Carlisle – this is one reason I never want to go there.
Personally, I consider around 90% of what passes as “modern art” to be pictures of vomit hanging on our walls under the pretence of being some moving philosophical masterpiece that makes pseudo-intellectuals orgasmic with delight. There are weird people out there whose mission it is to walk around with a camera, taking photographs of people vomiting or the after effects of having vomited. I worry about the world sometimes.
Treating Monkeys As Babies
I watched a programme on TV some time ago about people in America who own monkeys and treat them just like babies. It was one of those televisual events where I wanted to switch off the TV but was engulfed in a shroud of disbelief and morbid fascination. I was actually too shocked to rant and too stunned to pick up the remote control. One woman not only dressed her monkey up in a pram, she also put lipstick on the ugly little beast and cuddled it like a child. I sat there for an hour with my mouth open in utter astonishment.
What about me?
I have a couple of hobbies at the moment; blogging, photography and learning Spanish, as well as other interests such as rock music, rock gigs and reading.
I have to confess that I have had a couple of hobbies that may be regarded as quite sad:
(1) Collecting Football Programmes – I have approximately 500 football programmes from games involving Walsall FC between 1973 and 1985. I still have them up in the loft but I no longer actively collect them. Mrs PM wants me to recycle them all but I reckon they might actually be worth something in years to come (well that’s my excuse anyway).
(2) Collecting beer mats – A couple of mates and I challenged each other at university to see who could collect the most beer mat. I went through approximately three tons of Blu Tack pinning them to the walls and ceiling of my room in the halls of residence before thinking – “Hang on! What in the name of all that is insane am I doing?” I recycled them. One friend took it to extreme though and when we were in France together he marched up to a waiter in Paris and said “Moi! J’aime les beer mats.” The waiter gave him a look that I will treasure for the rest of my life – if only I had had a camera with me.
(3) Playing the Air Guitar – I have to confess that in the past when alone in the house I have been known to close the blinds, put on some heavy metal, crank up the volume and become Joe Satriani, Kirk Hammett, John Petrucci, Alex Lifeson or Ritchie Blackmore – or an amalgamation of all of them and more. Thankfully I haven’t done this for years – apart from a stint on Guitar Hero (with a small plastic guitar).
I’ve bared my soul to you again, dear reader, in that last section.
Now over to you – do you have a weird or wonderful hobby?
Let me know – I won’t laugh – after all I’ve just confessed to shredding a non-existent guitar.
How sad is that?