Making A Hobby Out of ‘How?’


I don’t know if any of you will remember it, but when I was a boy there was a program called ‘How?’. It featured Fred Dinenage, who did daft things; Jack Hargreaves, who did ‘country’ things; Bunty James, who did ‘girl’s’ things (different times, different times) and another man, whose name I cannot remember, who, to my recollection, kept electrocuting himself. Now, why this has come to my mind is that, as the show’s title implied, this show told you how things worked and also how to do things. These things we would, I suppose, class as hobbies and it is hobbies I have been thinking about for the last few days, because people keep telling me I need one. I say ‘I’m fine, I have a hobby’: I’ve got you dear reader, but they tell me you’re not enough, I need something more tangible. Something I can make or (pray excuse me) do.

Now during the course of my ramblings these last few months, I have looked briefly into what I suppose might be described as the most likely of ‘old man’ hobbies: D.I.Y. and gardening, and it’s fair to say that neither of them really hold any appeal for me. What I’m looking for, I think, is something rather more challenging than collecting stuff, but rather less dangerous than climbing rock faces. I do not suppose for one second that my long-held interest in whisky tasting will be allowed to develop into a hobby. I took Art at ‘A’ level (which means, basically, that I know how to draw a bus station and colour it in) so I guess that might be an option. When my mum died, I bought myself paints, brushes, canvas, an easel. They have lain unused ever since. Perhaps I’ll give painting a go. My Art teacher at school always told me that I had a special talent – at least I think that’s what he said.

My problem is that I am, by nature, solitary. I’m ok in a group setting once I’ve got to know everybody, but meeting everybody for the first time is torture. Remembering them for the second time is worse. The only way I could ever join a club would be to go along with somebody who is already in one, so that I could slowly skulk my way into the group consciousness. Once I am part of ‘a team’ I am fine, it’s the introduction phase that scuttles my equilibrium. I have dallied with golf in the past, but I have no talent for it and, anyway, it is far too stressful for me. Other folk, who are far more skilled than I (skill in golf is indicated by lack of dress sense) have a tendency to be both impatient and patronising. I try to make it a rule never to play sports with anybody whom I would like to kick on the shin during the normal course of events.

Despite many pleasant childhood days spent on the riverbank with my father, I have never understood the pull of Angling. I do not see me spending my twilight hours spearing carp through the hard-palate; taking a selfie of myself with them before throwing them back from whence I have just tugged them. Especially when armed with the knowledge that somebody else is going to try to do just the same thing to the poor little buggers the following day and – well, a fish’s memory being what it is – probably succeeding.

Anyway, the point is this: if any of you do remember ‘How?’ and can remember any of the things they did (except the electrocution ones) please let me know. It might be time to give them a go…

18 thoughts on “Making A Hobby Out of ‘How?’

  1. I don’t remember ‘How?’ although I feel sorry for the guy who went to all the trouble of getting electrocuted, only to be forgotten. However, I can suggest some hobbies…
    Building big stuff out of smaller stuff – models out of matchsticks, patterns out of pebbles, houses out of bricks.
    Proper DIY – the modifying people should do, but don’t. For example a slide instead of stairs or kaleidoscope windows.
    Inventing – I’d love to do this, but can never think of what’s needed, I’m sure you could come up with something though.
    Breeding mutants – self explanatory really

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    1. I like the idea of a slide instead of stairs – although getting upstairs might prove a little problematic – but I LOVE the idea of kaleidoscope windows. All my life I’ve wanted to invent something – anything – never come up with anything decent though. I’ll apply myself over the next few days and see what happens…

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      1. To get back up, you’d need a rope. Moving in furniture may be tricky.
        And yes! You CAN invent something! I believe in you!


      2. I wish I had your confidence. Strikes me that to invent anything now you need incredible technical and IT skills – I have neither. My level will be something along ‘this wedge shape piece of door would hold a door open if rammed underneath the leading edge’ scale. I can think of a million things that need inventing, but actually inventing them – that’s a different thing. I will put my mind to it, but I hold out little hope. I will let you know if anything occurs…

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      1. I wish I was! Of course, I was back and forth between the UK and US until moving permanently to the US in 1976, and I could have just been watching the wrong channel. Was it a regional show or broadcast nationally?


      2. Blimey. Now you’re asking. National tv, not sure whether itv or the Beeb. Kids tv show so sometime in the run-up to Magic Roundabout and Hector’s House


  2. Spontaneous thoughts: something crafty? Like work with wood or metal. (build some piece of furniture or so) And you can also then apply your arts talents there. Or some men do something like building colt/kalashnikov/some kind of rifle them self. Hunting. Mushroom hunting (one of my hobbies. Super cool. And very suitable if you are not into a ton of communication.). Chess/bridge/sudoku/table games. Hiking in cool nature (combined with mushroom hunting). Cooking (although that can be dangerous if you become too good. ;)). Pottery. Dancing (social aspect is absolutely manageable also for someone who is not so into meeting new people. I am the same way. :D) Yoga.


    1. Wow, thank you. I will take sometime to digest all that and let you know. I wish I had the nerve for mushroom hunting – I fear it might prove fatal


  3. If you’re talking about the teenage years, here are my recollections — for what they’re worth and for any faint usefulness they may provide.

    1. Cycling around my local town taking notes on historical landmarks: dates, curious facts, associated figures, architecture. My father suggested this to me, mostly as a way to stop me moping around the house (this being pre-internet). He was surprisingly astute (or remarkably lucky) as I’ve retained this hobby ever since. Well, maybe not the cycling around.

    2. Drawing superhero comics. This proved to be a complete dead end as I couldn’t get onto paper what I saw in my head, but at least I then moved on to drawing real objects and people which I think I was rather good at. Nowadays I Instagram them — quicker, easier to do, satisfying to crop and edit — and at least the composition has improved.

    3. Reading: an alternative to mapping, cycling, drawing and irritating my father. I’m revisiting some of my childhood reading for blogging purposes and discovering a number of facts:
    (a) I seem to have read different books by the same authors with the same title.
    (b) I may not have read as many books as I thought I did.
    (c) I had no idea about a lot of what I was perusing because most of it was beyond my experience, my understanding and my emotional, intelligence.

    And help!?


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