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Hannah Jones.

I don't have a hobby, unless you count lying down on my fat settee, cat at feet, laptop on in case salvation pops up in an email, and the Sky remote control just one muscle movement away as one.

I tried the stamp collecting thing when I was younger - these days I couldn't even tell you their price, let alone their history, aesthetic charm or lickability.

I also wanted to join that bastion of Valleys musicality, a jazz band - but frankly, that was only because I fancied playing the gazoo and see if I could get away with the tights and white daps look (I couldn't). I also had a thing for little drummer boys, but more of that another time.

And then there was music, the one thing I stuck with through thick, thin and clusters of demi-semiquavers.

But three grade 8s and a place in a conservatoire to do 'advanced operatic studies' after my first non-musical related degree later, and it all became more like an academic exercise and less like fun.

Now, with a home-made CD to my name and my certificates filed next to old Asda receipts, I still harbour Top of the Pops dreams (only this time it's more Later... With Jools Holland, and much better camera angles).

But I admit to wishing I had a hobby, something that would prevent me from falling into an entirely solipsistic existence.

However, you are either a hobby-minded person or you are not. My housemate loves cooking and will spend hours making lasagne from scratch; my father, a practical man, simply doesn't get this.

'Why go to all that trouble when you can buy one and get one free up Morrisons?' is what he says. And I can see his point. But Jonathan loves to cook, I love to eat, and my father has a bizarre - to Jon's mind at least - interest in fancy fowl as his hobby of choice.

Gardening, of course, is seen by many as the ultimate hobby. It's quite a soothing and gentle past-time, but you have to be constitutionally capable of pottering.

An urban gardener I know, the kind of woman who normally has to suck a Valium just to open her eyes in the morning, becomes calm personified amongst her plants. For her, gardening is the route she takes to escape her real world - and it's a green world of relaxation as well as propagation.

Whereas I'm a girl who's just content to smell the flowers once they've grown and pull up the barbecue on a newly-laid patio.

My friend, and those involved in the RHS flower show next weekend in Cardiff - our cover story this week - take it far more seriously of course.

But for us mere mortals, who can only make a mess rather than something beautiful in a garden or elsewhere, hobbies are best kept at a safe distance. Because that's the only way we'll fully appreciate what we're all too useless to do. Now, where did I put those stamps...
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 8, 2006
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