Thursday, 13 October 2011

Now There's A Strange Hobby

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:

Worm Charming

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.

Ferret Racing

Another creature I am not keen on is the ferret. I have known people who look and act like ferrets (one in particular whom we nicknamed “The Ferret” – how original were we?). Ferrets are vicious little brutes with sharp teeth that should be left out there in the wild and not domesticated.

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.

UFO Spotting

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 …

Extreme Trekkers

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.

Extreme Ironing

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.

Vomit Photography

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?


Mind Of Mine said...

So I am reading your post and I am thinking, god, some people. I don't understand them... UFO spotters, Trekkies and Extreme Ironers.

But come on, Eddie Stobart watchers! You can't take a long drive and not count the Stobarts!

Elephant's Child said...

Your country does do eccentricity really, really well. Mud snorkeling leaps to mind, and cheese chasing. There are others too. Love it.
And, am so with you and Mrs PM on the subject of ironing.
Not going to admit to having any weird hobbies.

Kath Lockett said...

Hmmm.... I must confess to laughing like a loon when I stumble across 'vomit photography' when looking for cheap thrills on the internet....

Beer mats might have provided a bit of sound insulation during the loud uni student years and I remember dimly someone in our college trying to save those shiny silver bladders that cask wine comes in and sticking them up on their ceiling. Looked like David Bowie's bedroom!

My sad hobbies - singing songs to Milly inserting her name into them. Loudly; often forgetting that sometimes, when out walking, that other people can hear me...

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi MoM,

Since discovering about the sadness of Eddie Stobart Spotters, I have found myself looking out for them - until I realised what I was doing...




Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

It certainly does - how else can you explain Morris Dancing? Cheese chasing is utterly bizarre.

Come on EC, admit to a weird hobby. You know you want to ...




Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

I've seen others singing to their dogs too. I would never sing to the cats - at least not in public - knowingly.




River said...

Weird hobbies? No, just the regular kind. Blogging, photography, a little gardening, (love earthworms), reading, walking, does watching TV count? No? What about watching dvd's?

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I do all of those - apart from gardening ( I hate it!!).

So no weird hobbies from you.




drb said...

I think my weird hobby is to travel to the tallest building/structure at that time and stare/photograph it but never climb/take a lift to the top. These includes current tallest-
skyscraper/free standing structure Burj Khalifa in Dubai;
Twin towers Petronas Twin Towers in
Ferris wheel Singapore Flyer

Yes, I may have a mild case of Acrophobia.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi drb,

I've been up some tall buildings - not the ones you mention but tall enough to make me quake.




Anji said...

I didn't realise that the ironing I've been doing all these years is MY HOBBY!

Our hobby has become my business now. Collecting vintage postcards. I'm learing a lot of history, geography and trivia as well as witnessing special moments in people's lives.

Get some of those football programs out and look on ebay and Delcampe, you might be in for a pleasant surprise.

When I lived in England I used to collect books which were given as Sunday school prizes around 1900.

I'll be trying to work out why anyone would want to go round disturbing worms for the rest of the day now.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Anji,

I guess ironing is only a hobby when your hurl yourself and your ironing out of an aircraft.

I've seen your website about your vintage postcards collection - I don't think that's weird - I think its very interesting. As I get older I am more fascinated with history myself.

I will pop a few queries into EBay and see what pops out.




Pandora Behr said...

And what is wrong with extreme ironing? I love ironing!

You're right, PM - there are some right weirdos out there...

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

I'll send all my ironing to you then.




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