Hobbies: The British Alternative To Life

LIFE! VIVACITY! IT brings to mind images of whirling Spaniards in Spanish clothes with Spanish blood pumping excitedly through their Spanish veins! Or Italian! Who knows! Yeah! Maybe even Argentinian! Look at them go! Living for the moment!

Britons, of course, have nothing to do with such things.

Certainly not.

Instead, we have tea.

Tea is a wonderful thing, except that, were it to be a young man, tanned and full of the joy of life, promenading on the beach, as one does, it would, all things considered, most likely, get its arse kicked by coffee, which would then lead a chorus of ribald laughter from all nearby and take off with tea's girlfriend, who would presumably be sugar.

Britons, of course, have nothing to do with coffee either.

Certainly not.


Who are you?

Where was I?

Oh yes, life.

Instead, Britons have hobbies.

Doubtless non-Britons by this point are full of shame and eager to shed the shackles of THE FOREIGN. "What are these hobbies of which you speak?" they cry. "How can one take up such activities? What pastimes are acceptable in polite society?"

Read on.


To trainspot you will need a train, a notepad, and some tea. The raw excitement of this involves seeing a train. If you have merely wandered onto the platform and "seen" a train in front of you, this does not count. You must have waited for four hours in a perishing gale in order to have seen a train properly. Fortunately, in Britain it is impossible to encounter a train for which you have not waited for four hours. Indeed, several major towns in Britain were founded by people waiting for trains. In some cases the trains have not yet arrived. Once you have spotted your train, you can have some tea. Then you go home. Record this in your notebook.


To birdwatch, you will need a tent, a pair of binoculars, a notepad and some tea. Take the tent. Sit in it. If the tent is securely fastened, correctly set up and on firm, dry ground, move the tent. Repeat until knee-deep in a swamp. Now take the binoculars and the notepad. Drop them in the swamp. Recover with sips of tea. On no account should any birds be involved, unless they are a) grossly misidentified (e.g. record pigeons as eagles, or bears as owls), b) long since dead, or c) at such a distance as to render their mere existence doubtful. In the case of c) it is desirable to observe closely for up to three days before realising the object of your scrutiny is a twig. If no twigs are available, other birdwatchers may be substituted. Record this in your notebook. If you possess any piece of tweed clothing, a handlebar moustache or a manservant, you may proceed to blast the living hell out of the bird in question with a twelve-bore shotgun. This is also acceptable if the bird is a birdwatcher. However, if the bird is a twig, it is the done thing first to enquire as to its family background. Afterwards, you can have some tea. Record this in your notebook.


Do not confuse this with bowling. Bowling is a crass and degenerate activity suitable only for the colonies and other such unmentionables. In this crude sport one send large sphere towards a collection of skittles, from which one scores "points". In bowls, in contrast, one sends large spheres towards nothing in particular. One then records this in one's notebook and has some tea.

Colonising Africa

For this popular pastime one needs a notebook, a solar topi, an Africa, and some tea. One records the fact in the first that one is wearing the second in the foetid depths of the third while imbibing suitable quantities of the fourth. At this point one might want to take the fifth, although this stage is optional. After tiffin, conquer an area of land the size of the moon. One can then have several hundred thousand pounds of tea. Record this in your notebook.

Building model railways

Related to "trainspotting" above, although not in any particular way. You will need a notebook, some wood, a baffled wife and a toolkit to rival the Gods. God-rivalling toolkits can be purchased from your local strange old man. Whereas in "trainspotting" one waits for long periods for semi-mythical "trains", model railways are run to a precision not yet equalled by any scientific means up to and including caesium-atom clocks. Much of the attraction, however, is to be found in building the railway. The aim is to achieve levels of engineering perfection far surpassing the original engines and/or carriages yet still remaining evangelically faithful to every detail thereon, while developing dress sense to make a tramp cry and absent-mindedly buttering your trousers. Drink tea throughout. Record this in your notebook.

Drinking tea and recording things in your notebook

This smacks of foreign meddling and is an arrestable offence.

What do you think, did we get it right? Comment here...