Have you noticed how many places now cater for the many hobbies people (especially older people like us) indulge in? Wander around K-Mart and you’ll find a whole aisle dedicated to scrap-booking; not something that I would be interested in I must admit, but for those who enjoy it, they are well catered for. Mind you, I always thought scrap-booking was supposed to be the large book you kept, where you saved old letters, newspaper stories, family photos and other interesting paraphernalia. But now all that seems to have gone by the board and the idea is simply to create a book of great designs and pretty colours, but with no particular theme at all. You just stick in all the fancy bits and pieces you have bought especially for the purpose at K-Mart or elsewhere and admire the end result. I’d want a scrap-book I could open, twenty years after I created it, and have it bring back all sorts of family memories for me.
For the men among us there is fishing of course. I remember when I first took up this hobby myself (too many years ago!) I had to build my own rod out of a tank aerial bought in an army surplus store, with rod rings manufactured out of safety pins with the clasp end cut off, tied to the rod with cotton from my Mum’s sewing box. I had to buy the reel, a bulky wooden effort and the line, at considerable expense to my Dad. None of the fancy reels we use today had even been invented then, no thread-line casting or geared rewind in those days, you had to make sure you pulled enough of the plaited line off the reel to allow casting without jarring the bait off the end. Finally there was the float – we made those out of the stem of bird feathers, with carved down wine corks for the ‘bulgy’ bit in the middle and bicycle valve rubber to hold the line in place against it. Fishing shops sold the most basic of gear like the reels, line and of course, hooks and maggots and that was just about it. But look at it now; tackle shops can be as big as a supermarket, with every conceivable piece of equipment the marketing boys could dream up, thousands of rods, different line types according to what you are going to fish for, natural baits, artificial baits, hooks and sinkers, and of course clothing! Just as with most occupations, we have been convinced that you can’t possibly do anything without the right gear, fishing, cycling, running, even if you want a game of darts you have to buy the correct shirt to wear now!
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Another sufferer from the men who make money is the camper. Remember when you just had a small tent, with a separate ground sheet, so you had to dig a ditch around it, in case it rained during the night? And the sleeping-bag on the hard ground, plus the fire to cook on and the oil lamp to provide some light at night? Forget all that nowadays – tents have sewn-in groundsheets and don’t leak, except in a flood, Beds come with electric pumps and are inflated before going to sleep, we cook on gas stoves or barbeques and who would dream of staying on a site that didn’t have electricity laid on? Of course, once again there are now numerous shops that cater solely to campers, selling all the gear needed, plus once again, the right clothes for the job.
These are just three examples, but I would bet that every one of you could name some activity or hobby which has become totally commercialised. It’s sad really, part of the fun used to be that you did it all yourself, but now that it’s all homogenised and sterilised by the big companies it hardly seems worth bothering with any more, the adventure part has been left out.
What hobbies do you enjoy? Where do you do them? Tell us in the comments below…