Guild member Jeff Evans has recently taken a break from beer and written a book about rock and pop music on television, swapping one passion for another.
Turning your hobby into your work seems like the perfect way to earn a living but it can get a bit claustrophobic at times.
Beer is brilliant but, once you start writing about it, you never look at it in the same light again and you can never quite be off duty. A quiet night in the pub still involves some note taking (even if only mental) and holidays tend to revolve around the number of local beers you can track down.
That’s why I like to break away now and again and write about something that’s completely different. Given that what I switch to tends to be another passion, the same issues arise, but at least it’s a change of scenery.
My latest sabbatical from the beer world has taken me into television. I’ve written a number of books about TV before – including an encyclopedia called The Penguin TV Companion and a behind-the-scenes exploration of Midsomer Murders – so it’s not new ground. What has been different this time is that I’ve built in another personal addiction – music. The result is a book called Rock & Pop on British TV – the first comprehensive history of the genre, kicking off in the pre-rock ‘n’ roll days and chronicling each decade in turn thereafter.
Just like writing about beer, it’s been a labour of love. I’ve spent months in libraries and archives, talked to many of the movers and shakers – both in front and behind the camera – and watched hours of footage. It’s meant long days and loads of fact-checking but it’s been a huge guilty pleasure. Yes, it means that now I cannot watch BBC4 on a Friday night without scribbling notes and, if there’s any retro footage on screen at other times, I’m wired into that, too. But I’m not complaining. How can you whinge about making a living out of something you love?
Even better, my two work strands are perfect soulmates. For me now, a hard day at the coalface involves a remote control in one hand and a glass in the other. I think I can live with that.
Rock & Pop on British TV, by Jeff Evans, is published by Omnibus Press.