I’m at sixes and sevens with what to do with myself in the mornings. At first, when my morning recurring hospital visits were over, I was excited about having the morning time to myself to do nothing. As the mornings without the predictable hospital visits wore on, I was tiring myself out so much by doing nothing that I started taking mid-morning naps. I began to miss having something to do in the morning. Some might say that sitting in an infusion chair or lying in a body mould receiving radiation therapy is boring. Some mornings, instead of just sitting in the chair doing nothing, I’d count the number of drops per minute of liquid running into the tubing from the IV drip bag; not that I was bored. After several weeks of counting drips, I thought it might be interesting to do something a little less repetitive. I asked my caregivers if it was ok to kick a footie in the hallway or play end-to-end outside with some of the medical team instead of sitting in the infusion chair counting drips. They didn’t seem interested in playing end-to-end, so I ended up watching Australia Rules on my smartphone while having my infusion.
It’s been six weeks since I last counted drips of liquid, and being at home with nothing to do has caused me to think that overdoing nothing might become boring; maybe I should take up a hobby. But what hobby should I take up? I’m out of practice with hobbies. The last two hobbies I had were back when I was a youngster. I remember putting together plastic model kits and stamp collecting. Dad bought my Revell plastic model kits. I didn’t get enough pocket money to save up to buy them myself, so I saw it as a lost cause and instead spent my pocket money on bags of mixed lollies at Dashers. The Dashers owned the Milk Bar on the Douglas Parade and Bunbury Street corner; we christened them The Dashers because they moved so slow. Our pushbike clique spent Saturday afternoons riding their bikes around Newport and Williamstown and doing the things preteens and early adolescents do. The gang always ended up at Dashers to spend their threepences, sixpences and pennies on a bottle of Tarax, a Peters ice cream, or a bag of mixed lollies. Oh, what a torture it was trying to choose between clinkers, fruit tingles, choo-choo bars, black cats, musk sticks, mint leaves, or milk bottles for a threepence bag of mixed lollies.
I remember putting together a Sopwith Camel plane, a Centurion tank, and a Spitfire. I left them unpainted, and each one was a white plastic colour. As time went by, I became concerned about the sameness of my models, and I pleaded with dad to buy me small bottles of different coloured model paint. I painted the Spitfire in camouflage, which looking back, was an insightful choice; my little fingers combined with my still-developing hand-eye coordination made it impossible for me to paint a straight line. And I smudged paint over all of the RAF decals and the other transfers I’d put onto the plane.
I would have given up threepenny bags of mixed lollies in a heartbeat to save up my pocket money to buy the Revell cargo ship model; I remember it as a model I dreamed of having. I grew up a block from Port Phillip Bay and the mouth of the Yarra River. The Yarra led cargo ships to the Port of Melbourne. As a youngster, I’d watch giant ships from far-flung corners of the world, low in the water, glide their way into the mouth of the Yarra River. And on foggy winter nights, I was put to sleep by the mournful fog horns warning the laden ships of the closeness of the foreshore as they navigated their way into the Yarra estuary. I knew my cargo ships, and the Revell kit was perfection in plastic. Mum and dad were aware of my longing, and it was an early birthday present.
There seemed to be hundreds of parts in the Revell box; every part was the same plastic white colour. Buoyed with confidence from my painting of the Spitfire and Centurion, I decided to paint some of the plastic parts; the hull defines a ship, so it had to be painted first. From my ship-watching at the Warmies, Sandy Point, and the bottom of our street, I knew the hulls of cargo ships were two colours; one colour to the waterline and a different colour below the waterline. I painted the hull, but it didn’t come close to the hulls of the ships I’d seen. I tried to get rid of the smears of paint with turpentine, but not knowing the effect of turps on plastic, I transformed the hull of the perfection in plastic freighter-cargo ship into a bizarre piece of worthless kaleidoscopic plastic.
I wrote a letter to Revell telling them about the turpentine and the painting of the hull. They must have been taken back by the pitiful handwriting and the suffering of a young teenage plastic modeller from the other side of the world because they sent me a new white colour hull. I left it unpainted. I set the white coloured completed ship among my other plastic models; that became the day I gave up the hobby of plastic model making.
I started collecting stamps when I gave up plastic model making. I think dad felt sorry for a lonely little boy without a hobby; he started giving me stamps whenever he bought a cellophane bag of stamps for his collection. He handed down stamps he already had and those that didn’t interest him. And whenever he’d buy a First Day Cover, he’d get an extra one for me. A First Day Cover is a stamp on a postcard or envelope franked on the first day it’s made available to the public. Some collectors, so they have a unique First Day Cover, buy the new stamp when it’s released, put it on an envelope, and mail it to themselves. Sometimes dad did the same, but most times, he bought the official Post Office released First Day Cover postcards.
Dad must have thought I’d become fascinated by the colours and images on the different stamps of the world, and stamp collecting would become my new hobby; that never came to be. The hand me down stamps were mostly Australian Sydney Harbour Bridge stamps or ones with different Australian animals on them; over time, they became duplicates of each other and the stamps I already had. My collection never grew beyond an assortment of different coloured: ha’penny kangaroo, sixpence kookaburra, shilling lyrebird, tuppence King George’s and fivepence Queen Elizabeth stamps.
I never enjoyed putting stamps into an album. My pudgy little fingers had trouble folding the stamp hinge in half, and it was always a problem licking half the hinge to stick it onto the stamp. And it was more of a problem when the hinge was on the stamp to lick the folded other half to paste it into the album. Putting stamps into the album was a breeze compared to rearranging them into a new sequence. I began to dread when dad gave me any new hand me downs because it seemed there was always a different denomination of a stamp I already had. And my stamp collecting hobby became; if a fourpence kangaroo a hand me down, I’d lift off all the stamps after the ha’penny kangaroo in my album, soak off their hinges, fold and lick new hinges to stick on them, lick the hinge and then move each stamp down one space for the fourpence kangaroo to go after the ha’penny kangaroo.
I never thought about stamps the same way I thought about ships when I was ship-watching the collection of assorted cargo ships entering the mouth of the Yarra. I would become lost, daydreaming about the adventures, romance, and intrigue lurking in exotic foreign ports. When I glued hinges onto the stamps, I never once thought about their country or the lands they travelled across. With all the hinge licking, stamp rearranging, and the disappointment of never finding a rare, two and ha’penny, 1942 King George Vl in the stamp hand me downs, I lost interest in stamp collecting as a hobby.
I never gave stamps a second thought again, that is not until I sorted the Christmas avalanche of letters and cards at the Footscray Post Office for six weeks. After the first week of sorting, I only saw envelopes with a street address and a postcode. I neither saw stamps nor had time to listen to their life story. I was a sorting letters automaton; my hands were a mesmerising blur as I flicked the envelopes into the correct pigeon holes for the posties to collect. I undoubtedly became the virtuoso of letter sorting because of rearranging and sorting stamps during my stamp collecting days. But sorting letters didn’t rekindle my interest in stamp collecting as a hobby.
I need to think of a hobby to take up in the morning in place of doing nothing. It has to be a new hobby instead of one I’ve already tried. Collecting In-Flight Sick Bags sounds like a hobby I wouldn’t mind trying. You collect the sick bags from flights you take; if you become an avid sick bag hobbyist, there are websites where you can buy and swap sick bags. If collecting sick bags doesn’t work out, I’d try Toy Voyaging. It’s a hobby where you send your toy to another toy voyager for a holiday. The voyager takes photos of your toy at different tourist attractions and doing holiday activities; they also fill out a travel journal of your toy. You do the same by hosting another toy voyager’s toy.
I think I’ll take up Toy Voyaging as my new hobby. Revell has a Queen Mary 2 Ocean Liner plastic model kit I can put together and send on a holiday to Nepal. I think I’ll paint the hull black with a red band along the waterline. Or maybe I’ll kick a footie around in the street as a hobby. Decisions decisions !!! I’m having as much trouble choosing a new hobby as I do when choosing between a chiko roll and steamed dim sims.