Sunday, October 31, 2010

"But it's amazing what you can achieve when you just go for it. In James May's Man Lab we built our own pub – from the bar and the pumps to the flock wallpaper"

Is that bathos, or pathos? Or both?

And then on his idea of creating "an ideal gentlemen's club", somewhere blokes can bring their DIY and fix-it-up projects and share tools:

"You do a bit of woodwork or metalwork and have a beer at the same time."

Sounds a bit dangerous!

Still this is something I have wondered myself in recent years: like, do people still have hobbies? Or does leisure now consist overwhelmingly of social networking, fandom,knowledge-nerdery, etc etc i.e. entirely textual/cultural... When I were a lad, seemed like a lot of people (kids and adults) made models, whittled wood, inserted miniature ships inside bottles, etc etc. It's hard to imagine anyone still engages in these pastimes, but perhaps there's a whole underworld.

In amidst the anecdotes about building bodged-together frankenstein-style bicycles and remote-controlled aeroplanes May ventures some social analysis:

"There's a generational difference at work here. Basic mechanics and woodwork were common currency at a time when Britain was much more of a manufacturing nation. I spent my formative years in South Yorkshire, where a lot of people's dads were employed in industry, and making stuff with your hands was just seen as a natural extension of the culture of the area. And yes, with the disappearance of those industries, the skills, too, have disappeared to some extent."

A good point. In a postproduction society you're going to have more and more people who aren't good with their hands, they're good with information. Code-work, net-navigation, pattern recognition, semionautical skills, etc etc