That’s Just British… [by Russ]
Wit and Wisdom from Across the Pond
So I’ve had a few stereotypes or questions come in and they are great! But I need more to make a decent post, so please keep them coming. I also have an idea for Russ’ Great British Brain off – a sort of quiz for you with prizes. If you have categories or prizes to suggest get in touch. For now let’s touch on a quirk of British History: The Bank Holiday.
Bank holidays. Its what we call a public holiday in the UK. Usually they fall on a Monday. We have 8 of them. Normal people spend them bored at home, trying not to argue with the family, maybe have a barbecue, a roast dinner, day drinking and watch whatever crap is on the telly.
Across the UK though some people do things differently. Near where I live there is a Hill, its known as Cooper’s hill. On this hill is a very steep bit of hill. Now every spring bank holiday a bunch of people gather. A 7-9 pound round of Double Gloucester Cheese is picked up and Rolled down the hill. Then the “runners” (fallers and rollers seems more apt, maniacs the most fitting) give chase, if they catch the cheese, or cross the finish first they get the cheese. This probably sounds very quaint doesn’t it? Well the cheese can hit 70 mph (110 kph to you) and has since meant due to injuries it’s now a foam replica of the cheese. There have been many serious injuries in the event. This is a description by one participant:
“Twenty young men chasing a cheese off a cliff and tumbling 200 yards to the bottom, where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to hospital”.
Us Brits eh!
How did this all start? There are two theories. One is that it evolved from a requirement for maintaining grazing rights on the common. Because you know, we could just put some cows or sheep in the field, nah lets chuck a cheese down it, get pissed and give pursuit. The second is it originated from the Pagans who had a custom of rolling down the hill. Originally it was bundles of burning brushwood rolled down to signify the birth of the New Year. In addition buns, biscuits and the like were scattered by a Master of Ceremonies in a fertility rite to encourage the fruits of harvest. Obviously one year said Pagans couldn’t start a fire and some bright spark thought “well cheese is almost the same thing, the Gods will be ok with that, right?”
Anyway in 1826 the first recorded history of the cheese rolling was discovered by a message from the Town Crier. But even then it talks of the time honoured tradition.
The event is hugely popular and people crowd the hill to watch. It’s been a few years since I’ve been, it was a traditional piss up with mates and for reasons I’ve forgotten, and we don’t anymore. Maybe one year I’ll have a crack at it.
This is one of many events like this we also have:
Dorset Knob Throwing
Rubber Duck racing
Wool Sack Racing
Shin Kicking and the Cotswold Olimpicks (correct spelling!)
Most of these events take place in my home area, which tells you something about how weird and quirky life is in the Cotswolds, but that another blog! I love this sort of crazy stuff though, weird laws, quirky traditions etc., so maybe share some you know of where you’re from, below.