Seeking 'safe excitement' while celebrating the mundane

·3-min read
An obsession with photographing dustbins win David Clark the title of 'anorak of the year'
An obsession with photographing dustbins win David Clark the title of 'anorak of the year'

Much as we protest, us Brits celebrate the mundane. That opening gambit comes hot on the heels of my last hour which was spent watching Sunday Brunch in which the title of the show is marginally more interesting than the content.

As much as I despise cooking (thank you Percy Spencer for inventing the microwave), I, in a Sunday mind swamp of void will sit and watch fully grown men, many of which look like they are sporting hangovers, act all ‘butch’ as they knock up a crème brulee’. Using creative camera angles, jazzy incidental music and the introduction of terms such as the putrid ‘foodie’, we are led into an alley where such dross is sexed up and presented as the emperor's new clothes on acid.

In a lull between the starter and entrée, I whiled away the minutes researching ‘anorak of the year’. Far from purporting to be something it is not, aka Sunday Brunch and its brethren, it is a clear celebration of the mundane in all its glory.

The current poster boy is a gentleman with a name to match his dull mantle: David Clark (note: he is not even a ‘Dave’). David, from Norfolk (which probably answers many questions), received the 2023 award for his passion, nay, obsession for photographing the nation's dustbins, which sounds like a rubbish hobby (sorry). Still, no doubt it gives his wife some respite as he ambles about his manor culminating in his taking more than 10,000 photos of the litter receptacles in the previous four years. The award winner, issued by the it does what it says on the tin ‘dull men’s club’, beat off stiff competition from a milk bottle collector (which must be infinitely more difficult in the current climes), and a woman who ‘follows’ random brown tourist signs. For what it’s worth, David’s favourite ever bin is one shaped like a fab lolly which ‘blew him away’.

Still not enamoured by the Sunday Brunch wags, who were now discussing the best whisk to use (or the suchlike) I looked at the dull men’s club list of ‘dulllights’ for self-inspiration. There are some corkers including a chap who wrote a book on ‘road tunnels’, a collector of airsickness bags, a drainspotter and the world championship cardboard boat race which pricked my interest.

There are also clubs and societies that the target market, ie me, are welcome to join. I skipped the ‘boot scraper society’ as I am not even sure what one is, but got excited by the pork pie club, the dust cap collective and roundabouts. Living near to Hemel Hempstead no doubt I am in prime position to document the carbuncle that is the ‘magic roundabout’, which is neither magic nor, technically, a roundabout, as you have to enter it anti clockwise.

With 40,000 and growing Facebook membership of folk with a similar demographic to mine, the tagline of ‘safe excitement’ is not to be sneered at, as the slightest wrong move can cause a slipped disc and months of expensive rehab, so theirs is a lifestyle that appeals.

If clubs or records aren’t your thing, there are some suggestions as to how to spend your downtime (which will be plentiful as it is likely you will have but a couple of friends). Such suggestions include watching paint dry, wood warping, defragging your PC, popping bubble wrap and the art of leaf raking.

Soon to be a fully paid up member, I am still searching for a nondescript activity to fill the void and add a dash of dullness to an already pedestrian existence, but still, whatever I choose can't be any worse than watching an overweight foodie singe a cheesecake with a miniature flame thrower, can it?

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher