My brain has that Restless Leg Syndrome. Well, the mental equivalent, whatever that may be. I always need a cunning new plan on the drawing-board to keep me happy.
When I spot an opportunity, more often than not I’ll immediately want to wade in and give it a go regardless of whether or not I possess any natural aptitude for it. This morning I almost bought a pair of 10oz punching mitts; then realised that I’m not a member of a boxing club, don’t own a punchbag, and wouldn’t especially enjoy being kicked or punched by anyone. None of these considerations occurred to me when I saw the gloves – they just hit me (yes, a pun) as the potential start of something interesting. Also in my mind was the scene in Avengers Assemble where Captain America (Chris Evans) wearing just a vest, pummels a punchbag so hard it bursts; but that’s not really relevant – although I’m sure Freud would have argued otherwise.
Some people refer to this endless interest in finding new hobbies as ‘all the gear but no idea’, however I prefer ‘leaping before looking’ – because that sounds exciting and adventurous instead of shallow and pretentious. Several years ago tried kitesurfing. However, wearing two winter wetsuits and getting dragged face-first through an extremely cold and choppy North Sea didn’t really take off; I took off – several times – which was rather unnerving, yet I felt the experience was still worth every penny of the £245 I paid.
Not willing to be put off water-based pursuits so easily I then moved on to giving scuba a go. This hobby came with an instruction-manual the size of a phone book; basically a compendium of large-print warnings about the numerous ways I could inadvertently kill myself. Despite such a sobering introduction I successfully managed to dive wearing full scuba-gear in a two-meter-deep pool. It was rather enjoyable until I was asked via hand signals to flood and clear my mask; whereupon I flooded my sinuses, gagged, blew the respirator out of my mouth and surfaced rather speedily. Despite calming words from the instructors I didn’t return the following week.
Having tried both kitesurfing and scuba without being able to swim (I shit you not) I resolved to take an adult ‘learn to swim’ course, this turned out to be a very successful hobby and I stuck with it for three years. I later booked archery lessons but the course got cancelled. Horse-riding also caught my attention. I browsed Amazon for jodhpurs, Barbour jackets and nice boots – but then realised I wasn’t particularly interested in actually riding the horses themselves. That was a bit of a non-starter. I also tried skateboarding and bought myself a BMX. At twenty-seven I looked a bit of a knob riding a bike standing up so I sold it to a kid in Felixstowe.
However, my endless curiosity with finding new ways to spend my spare time isn’t all about chasing adrenaline. I’m also finding myself increasingly (and worryingly) intrigued by old-git pursuits like wine-tasting and Thai cookery courses. I’m already a member of a website that provides me with random addresses to send postcards to. In return I get cards sent to me from other randomly selected people around the world. It’s rather like a paper-based chat-roulette for nerds. In recent weeks I’ve found myself getting rather excited by Mary Berry (no, not in that way) on The Great British Bake Off. Before long I expect I’ll be signing-up for a course to hone my sponges and jam-making skills, perhaps then I can try to make a name for myself on the parish fete-scene and…
Yeah, I’d better go and buy those boxing gloves.