I am a man with hobbies. When I was growing up there seemed to be a real stigma around anyone our age who had a proper hobby. Anybody who had something that they enjoyed doing that wasn’t either playing football, sitting around in a park or drinking was weird. Naturally I abandoned any interests I might have had outside my social group in order to focus on being accepted. Lowe, it worked, kind of. But my ability and confidence in areas that interested me suffered.
Watching ‘The Railway: Keeping Britain on Track’ (on BBC Two) I envied one boy who brazenly declared ‘I’m seventeen and I love Diesels!’ (in reference to trains), he went on to explain how he spends so much time at Leeds Train Station that he knows all of the members of staff including ‘some of the drivers’, which he sounded genuinely thrilled about as he tucked into his McFlurry. The stigma attached to trainspotting is such that I guess a trainspotter must quickly develop a thick skin. I too may once have mocked them, but not anymore.
Now, my hobbies didn’t and still don’t include trains, train drivers or a love of diesels, but I couldn’t help but admire the guys conviction and commitment to something that he found wholly pleasurable. He appeared completely apathetic toward what people might think of him, something I couldn’t manage at seventeen and probably couldn’t even now.
I said above I do have hobbies and things I’m interested in, things that I neglected when I was younger and picked up again once I’d developed my own ability to say ‘I love whatever’ with the same unerring conviction of the afore mentioned hero. I’d love to say that my hobbies were something equally quirky and unconventional, like SpiroGraph, David Icke books and Gold prospecting. Alas mine are somewhat more generic and conventional. Photography and music (namely guitar).
It seems that everyone, is interested be it fleetingly or obsessively so in those two topics, but still.
Now, I first picked up a guitar at around 9 or 10 and had a terms worth of lessons through school. Before putting it down and not picking it back up again until 6 years later. By which time, everyone that had stuck with it was a lot better than I was and probably still am. Even though I’ve played guitar for a while now I still feel the same awkward, sweaty palmed, nervous feeling I got when I first started upon entering a guitar shop especially when making a purchase that requires me to have a play with the product.
The same is true of photography, I don’t want to have to speak to anyone who works at Jessops, certainly not about camera’s. Two areas of photography that particularly interest me are live music coverage and street photography, but in kicks the coyness I’m inflicted with. TO be a photographer in these settings (certainly the gigs I’d wish to attend with camera) you have to put yourself on show. People will be able to see you taking photographs. This is something I can’t cope with. The thought of being approached to a) be asked to stop taking photographs or worse b) be asked to look at the photographs I’ve taken, is something that fills me with horror.
I am a confidence player. I need to be told that I’m doing something well if I’m to do ‘it’ in public. Generally speaking I am a confident person, indeed with regard to the former hobby I play in a band and regularly have to do ‘it’ in public, but that’s fine because I have three other people to share my embarrassment and pain. I know that this is something that I have to overcome if I’m going to feel fulfilled by the hobbies I’ve chosen (who choses hobbies they don’t like?) and so I’m taking a fresh approach and trying as hard as I can to find my own way of saying ‘I love Diesels’.