Things I am not interested in

Why would I write about things I am not interested in? Only because there always seems to be an assumption in the media that everybody is, and most people seem to have some interest in these. Well, not entirely. I was actually asked (by someone at IBM UK Labs, Hursley Park) on an occasion I won't forget, when I had shown I knew nothing about some famous rock anthem: “Ian, where have you been for the last 30 years?”
Popular culture

I have many interests so I think I am entitled to leave several broad categories of things, mostly extremely popular with other people, in which I have absolutely no interest whatever. It sometimes takes some mild effort to avoid these, since they are so all-pervasive in contemporary popular culture.


Almost all my life, I have steadfastly avoided taking any interest in any sport (except snooker) at any level, whether as spectator or as participant. And I have almost never watched anybody else play snooker, either in person or on television, except when I am waiting for my turn in a game I am playing. And it is years since I played it because I only ever did at a workplace where there were there was a room with snooker tables where we could play at lunchtime after lunch. That was at ICL (International Computers Limited) E&T (Education and Training), at a former stately home (and Jesuit school) called Beaumont in Old Windsor, Berkshire, where I worked in 1974-6. All that has long gone. (ICL was bought by Fujitsu in 1999.)

I was, for a few years at secondary school (another Jesuit school: Wimbledon College), forced like everyone else to be present for the utter misery of what was supposed to be either rugby football or cross country running, in the winter, and for the utter boredom of what was supposed to be either cricket or (later) tennis, in the summer; however, I generally managed to avoid actually doing anything; and it was such an enormous relief every week when it ended and I could go home. Since school days, for roughly the last 40 years, I have avoided participation in any sport. I also utterly hate gymnasia and the culture of exercise for its own sake, involving nasty machinery, and those grotesque enclosed spaces where it is housed, and where frowning, sweaty people are to be seen using it to "pump iron". Once, in the 1990s, I was persuaded to try attending one such establishment, at a place of work, and to try doing some exercises prescribed by a resident sport/exercise coach there, who took various measurements of my heart rate and so forth beforehand. After going there and doing these exercises, on two or three occasions over a little more than a week, I caught myself one evening thinking with dread about lunchtime the next day at the workplace, because it was my gymnasium day. I was finding the prospect of going there so stressful beforehand each time, and it was getting me so wound up, inducing such anxiety (because I hated the experience, the ambience, the presence of the other people), that it was clearly doing me more harm than good! I gave it up at once. I later explained by phone to the exercise coach that I wouldn't be returning.

I also avoid any kind of spectator sport either live or on television. The one exception to this blanket avoidance is snooker. Once (but just the once), in the 1970s, I had a try at snooker somewhere where they had proper billiard/snooker tables. And I have occasionally watched 5 or 10 minutes of snooker on television when there was some kind of championship on, but only very occasionally over the years, and for a few minutes. I quickly tire of it and I certainly never follow a tournament or a player and would, obviously, never go to all the bother of attending a match in person.