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It’s just a hobby horse

May 23, 2018

Yehudi Menuhin once said: ‘If music be the food of love, then how come I’m always so damn hungry?’ Actually it wasn’t Yehudi Menuhin and I’ve no idea who it was – probably me – but for a brief moment I bet it injected a degree of credibility into that important first paragraph.

I knew that I’d have to return to the subject of music sooner or later, but for some time I have been playing in a six piece electrified ukulele band; although I’m not sure how electrifying our performance is! (Author’s Note: I’m a bit unsure about using exclamation marks anymore since Donald Trump appears to have turned them into an art form).

Anyway, I digress. The reason why I return to this subject is that, for me, music is a massive departure from the real world, although I hope that this does not apply too directly to our audiences. I suppose, when you come to think about it, that’s what hobbies are all about. Sometimes, with the busy lives that we all lead, it’s very difficult to find time for anything extracurricular; but I advise you to try.

From the point of view of our little band, we do seek to do as many charity ‘gigs’ as we can. As a result we have performed in a whole host of different venues, from village halls to large theatres and I must admit that it is always great fun. We’ve appeared in front of The Duke of Kent, The Duchess of Cornwall and many other well-known Sussex pubs (couldn’t resist it). I must add that none of us are on the right side of the tree of life, but we seem to be able to muster sufficient energy to make our performances work.

Of course - and as always appears to have been the case in the music industry - we’re all on drugs. For example, I’m on Statins at the moment and the bass player is on Rivaroxaban - which actually sounds to me like a Boney M song. In addition we do seem to have a major problem with ‘groupies’ - that is to say, there aren’t any!

As you can imagine, we do spend a large amount of our time travelling around and we seem to have acquired a mass of increasingly sophisticated equipment; my latest purchase being a puppet snake with a moveable mouth. There has even been talk about us using a tour bus, which would be ideal especially if it visited the tulip fields in Holland. But of course life on the road can be tough, especially when you have to face a 45 minute drive home at the end of a performance. Sometimes I have even missed ‘Book at Bedtime’, but that is a sacrifice one must make for one’s art.

So work hard and play hard is a good philosophy of life. How many times have you come home from work after a particularly tough day and thought: ‘I’m just going to get home and put my feet up in front of the telly and maybe doze for a while’, only to be told that you have been invited out to some friends for the evening (blast!)? But then to find that the evening has had a much more beneficial effect on your demeanour than you imagined, with your mind made ready with renewed vigour for the next day.

So diversion from the norm is what hobbies are all about. Winston Churchill had a number of hobbies, and one of the main ones was bricklaying. During some of his worst times in World War II, when all appeared lost, he would escape to the garden and start building a wall. It sounds daft but that gave him an opportunity to clear and refresh his mind, after which he was able to look at things in a new light - although I’m sure that the odd brandy helped as well.

There are so many different types of hobbies. A neighbour of mine is a collector, and I really mean a collector. He goes out for a walk every day and takes with him a refuse sack and collects any discarded rubbish that he comes across and then tallies the number of bags per week. Bonkers? Not really, he loves it and he is actually doing his bit to ‘Keep Britain Tidy’.

So, in conclusion, maybe everyone should have an absorbing hobby that is far removed from their normal life. I’ve actually heard people say that their work is also their hobby and I suppose that this can be appropriate if they completely and utterly enjoy what they do, but I’m not sure that this is the majority. Most of us need to escape into a pastime which is far removed from our working lives. There is no point in a builder, for example, having a hobby which involves building brick walls, this might not be a suitable foundation for happiness. The only hobby I would not recommend is politics, this could send you way round the bend, and it would certainly never get my vote.

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