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|Knitted "Top of the Tops"|
Nowadays we believe we can buy much better things than we could produce ourselves, and getting what we want requires no more effort than a barely prehensile prod at a keypad. We have become consummate consumers, gourmets of culture, super-spectators, and our sophistication as audience-critics has out-stripped our making and performing skills. But the old hobbies, games and handicrafts haven’t disappeared. Instead they’ve changed from something we do into something we watch. TV programmes on DIY themes from cooking to home makeovers to ballroom dancing have professionalised the amateur: the old parlour games are played by professional entertainers, while amateur performers compete for the affirmation of fame and a professional contract. And so, whether we judge ourselves lacking the wit of TV quiz panellists at one extreme or gawk at the humiliation of talent show competitors at the other, most of us daren’t risk it ourselves.