THE BLOG

Your Grumpy Old Man

03/09/2013 04:18 pm ET | Updated May 09, 2013

If, like me, you have a grumpy old man lurking about at home, you need to act fast before he makes your thoughts drift towards murder. There are endless possibilities out there to keep someone who is suffering from 'irritable male syndrome' entertained.

Recent research shows age is no barrier to pursuing hobbies:

  • Nearly three quarters of Brits have tried new activities since turning 60.
  • Fifty-three percent revel in the freedom that later years offer.
  • One in five Brits say active hobbies help them feel younger.

Many people over the age of sixty in the UK are embracing their senior years by taking up new activities, according to recent research from Age UK. Seventy-one percent of those are tackling new challenges like learning a foreign language, taking to the dance floor, or even getting the adrenaline pumping with outdoor activities like bungee jumping, kayaking, and mountain climbing.


There is no excuse for your other half to stay at home and vegetate in his twilight years. He needs to tackle a new venture. Don't settle for sending him to gardening or basket weaving classes. Encourage him to take up a more adventurous activity and get him out from under your feet.

Let your imagination run wild and introduce your fellow to abseiling. No, I am not being cruel, although the thought of watching your grumpy drop from a great height might have a certain appeal. Take the example of Rev. Tim Harrison who abseiled down St. George's Cathedral in Perth's CBD in November 2012. It is even more impressive when I tell you that he was eighty-five years old and performed the abseil to highlight Seniors Week. Rev. Harrison had only abseiled once before in 1944. His reaction?

"This reminds me I am still quite young -- although I am a bit stiff. Maybe same time next year!"

Abseiling is an activity that anyone can do at any age. Challenge your man and hope he doesn't ask you to join him.

If he prefers to stay closer to home, then what about beer? I don't mean sitting about drinking it, although an interest in real ale would get him out and about to various conventions and pubs. He could try out home brew or collecting beer caps, tops, bottles, or beer mats. You can take the last one a bit further and attempt beer-mat flipping. It will take some time before your chap will be able to beat a record set by Mat Hand, who flipped and caught a pile of 112 beer mats in 2001 in Nottingham, UK. It took him over four hours and 129 attempts before he broke the previous record of 111. Be prepared for some cries of frustration if your man tackles this.

There are many games you could offer up to your man. Games can help with memory and, of course, appeal to the natural competitive spirit in many men. (Don't challenge him to Monopoly. He'll thrash you, build hotels all over Park Lane, become very serious and bankrupt you in under two hours.) Introduce him to Dungeons & Dragons, also known as D&D, which is a fantasy role-playing game designed by Gary Gygax and David Arneson in the early 1970s. It remains incredibly popular today and can be played by young and old alike. You know he is getting into character if you observe him walking about the house in a wizard's hat.

If you are looking for something more unusual, then take a peek at extreme ironing. The bonus with this hobby is that he will get all your washing pressed for you. The idea is to see who can iron in the most bizarre, unusual or extreme place. Photographs have been taken of people ironing on top of mountains, in the middle of motorways, in fast-flowing rivers, on top of fast-moving cars, suspended from trees, and even at the bottom of the sea.

Other extreme sports include extreme cello-playing, extreme caravan-towing and extreme wheelbarrow pushing believed to have originated on a building site in London.

Your man might be bored, but he isn't bonkers enough to try any of the above, is he?

There are many more activities that your other half can take up. Some are wild and wacky, others more serious. What about archery, bodyflying, calligraphy, dough craft, e-Bay trading, Flamenco, gliding, hypnotism, impersonations, juggling, Koi Carp, LEGO, metal detectors, needlepoint, origami, pole dancing, quizzes, reiki, skydiving, treasure hunting, unicycling, ventriloquism, whistling, xylophone playing, yodelling or Zumba?

So, don't let him wrestle with retirement. Find him a new activity or hobby. Who knows? You might want to join him in some of them.

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