Classics on the Common and why Hobbies are COOL
My Summer has officially started. I had my last day at my current temp job last week, and once the clock hands tick-tocked onto 5pm, I swept all my stuff off my desk, jumped on it, flashed the office and started popping and locking to ‘School’s Out’ by Alice Cooper. (Well, sort of, what I ACTUALLY did was bring in cookies and cakes in the hope that they’ll hire me back in other times of non-acting-work-need, but that’s what I was doing in my head.) So, I headed back home to Ma and Pa’s for a few weeks to teach drama at a local performing arts Summer camp (I mean I SAY I teach drama, what I MEAN is that I spend two weeks doing up the laces on 4 year olds jazz shoes and flogging them penny sweets and occasionally throwing a bit of Zip Zap Boing into the mix). The sheer beauty of this though is getting to spend a bit of time at home. I nearly forgot what RAPTURE this is. THERE’S A LAUNDRY FAIRY HERE FA CRYIN’ OUT LOUD. Anyway, home for me, is the absurdly middle-class Hertfordshire Haven, Harpenden. All the Mums have four wheels drives, all the Dads commute into St Pancras every morning on the 7.56 FCC service and the kids all have to carry their Food Tech stuff to school in a wicker basket. It’s so easy to lovingly mock the place that you’re from. I happily rip it out of Harpenden for all the middle-class stereotypes that pour out of it, yet if I heard a non-Harpendener slag it, I’D BE ON THAT SHIT. Fact is, fond memories create strong ties, no matter where it is you’re from.
One of my best things about Harpenden, is the annual free Classic Car Show that it hosts every year on the Common, organised by the Rotary Club (natch). It’s huge this thing. Hundreds of classic car owners and spectators pile onto the common, and it teems with families, friends, motorcycle clubs all swaggery in leathers and beards, kids running round with calippo juice round their mouths, and what seems like every extra from ‘All Dogs Go To Heaven’ (Harpenden hearts pooches). There’s grub on offer, the local pubs have people spilling out onto the pavement clutching pints and glasses of Pinot spritzer, all jovial and happy for a mid-week excuse for a cheeky pint or two.
It’s not often that I get aroused by cars (or any transport really. I’m not exactly gay for trains either), but I’ll admit. I get a bit hot under my collar at this. Now this has less to do with the size of the engine that’s on display (WHEYYYYY GUYS WHO’S WITH ME?!) but the passion and dedication that the car owners clearly put into their vehicles. They’re polished, waxed, dressed up and buffed until they gleam (And that’s just the blokes! Guys?! GUYS?!?! Cheesus Christ, sorry, being round kids all day at the moment means I’m obviously not able to swear or say anything inappropriate to my fellow staff members, so it’s like a SWEARY SEX JOKE RESERVOIR in my brain at the moment. It’s pretty terrifying actually. DON’T WORRY I AM CRB CHECKED. Now pipe down and CRBehave.)
What I mean is, Classics on the Common is a visual display of pride and love. And I always think it’s AWESOME to be proud and passionate. I say, it doesn’t matter WHAT you are passionate about, just as long as you ARE passionate about something (I mean personally I can’t quite get a boner over a Morris Minor, but hey, whatever lights your fire). As I wandered amongst all these beautiful cars, and watched their owners toast plastic flutes of cava, share platters of M&S food on rickety folding tables and greet other long-lost automobile-loving pals, I smiled to myself, because they are clearly folk who are fanning the shit out of their fires. The weak August sun did it’s best to bounce off the bonnets down the line of Beetles and I felt a glow because however geeky a hobby may be, hobbies and passions are what keep our brains sharp, our social life busy and our hearts open. For me, hobbies are essential. They are the extra-curricular activities of life. They allow me to have complete control and focus over one area of this unpredictable and oft tempestuous thing called life. I can’t make the universe offer me the job of a lifetime on a platter, nor can I force it to shove the man of my dreams into my path, but BY JOVE. Give me an afternoon spent in the company of my book club (we’re called The Bookie Monsters. I KNOW.) or bashing away at a blog or two alongside a strong Hendricks and Tonic, and life seems to have glimmers of structure, purpose and focus. SO DO GO FORTH, join that Stitch and Bitch evening, shake the rafters at a choir, finally start on your airfix model or go and pivot around a netball court for I DO DECLARE HOBBIES ARE COOOOOOOL.
And then in the midst of my moment of warmth, I heard two old ladies as they passed a whacking great big Rolls Royce and they said:
“Ooh no, I mean, you wouldn’t go to Tescos in that would you?”
“No, well, you’d get a Waitrose delivery dear.”
Which pretty much sums up Harpenden in a nutshell.