It’s just something that happens.
In your forties, you’ll almost certainly take up yoga or pilates, maybe zumba or salsa lessons.
In your fifties, you’ll probably join a choir, from a starting point of singing in the shower, suddenly there will be community singing and concerts in the evening.
In your sixties, there will be short-mat bowls, golf or badminton.
Anything beyond that will probably involve a cruise. These are things I have seen.
In your thirties, you’ll go mad for arts and crafts. You may form an unnatural association with papier mache. I know I have, and my inherent lack of skill has done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm.
I didn’t fancy going back to college, not in any real sense, until my mid-twenties. Suddenly, armed with textbooks and calculators, I realised I enjoyed learning and had wasted the previous ten years watching telly.
Grown people often assume students are lazy. I have come to recognise this as jealousy. We would all study, with no certainty over career prospects and an income that would barely keep us in noodles, if we could.
In any event, I had a crack at an evening class when I was just a smidge over twenty. I did woodcarving and frankly, I was rather good at it. I had a couple of design books, a good handful of carving chisels (different from normal wood chisels in that they aren’t especially bevel-edged but resemble a U or V shape), and I made some cracking Christmas presents. Indeed, I would still be doing it now, except I think there are mice in the garage, doubtless living in my dad’s workbench, and I’m not sure where I put the key.
Entering my thirties, I decided to make beer. We were looking to pay for the new roof at the Club, and I fancied I could get a beer starter kit for a minimal outlay, make a bitter bravely infused with dried cranberries (my own decision, not sure where that thought came from but I couldn’t shake it) and raise money with a beer which could be known as Roof Fund.
Now, I don’t know if perhaps it needed longer to ferment or what, but that thought was shelved with the first few bottles. Indeed, the Committee felt I might have poisoned my friend, a real ale drinker who agreed to be guinea pig for my bitter. He’s still alive now, and it’s quite possible that I made him stronger than ever before.
Okay, so I gave up on beer in case of an unintended poisoning.
I downloaded a book on cheesemaking. Our friendly local goat farmer doesn’t do much with the excess milk from his animals, so I thought it would be a great little earner for us both. Then I read about e-coli and frightened myself, so that was the end of that.
I tried making bath bombs. I had all the right ingredients, but upon carefully adding scant drops of essential oils, sprayed water and colouring, the resultant grainy mush grew and grew and all but coated the dining room table. It was as if that old ‘B’ movie, ‘The Blob’, had smelled of lavender and tea tree. We almost had to move house.
Knitting was safe, I have a talent for knitting. Knit one, I can do, purl one – not a chance. I never learnt to purl. I have a knitting pattern for a doggy jumper which would be just the thing for Doobie in the winter – he feels the cold quite badly – but, of course, it requires knowledge of purling. Thank the lord for google.
I read somewhere that Dame Judi Dench enjoys cross-stitch and that, between takes and at other quiet times on set, she cross-stitches exceptionally rude phrases onto samplers and cushion covers. Frankly, I don’t care whether or not that’s true. I enjoy it as a thought.
And now I have plans for the winter.