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Saturday, June 22, 2024
ArticlesLaterally Speaking

Laterally Speaking

HumphAs I write, we’re in the middle of a late summer sporting flurry including Britain’s remarkable progression to our first Davis Cup tennis final since 1978 and the on-going adrenalin rush of the Rugby World Cup. Coming on the heels of England regaining the Ashes this summer and Team GB’s continued successes in the Athletics World Championships a couple of months ago, I have to ask myself what’s gone wrong? Why this triumphant winning run? I’m more used to reading doom headlines such as “England Flops Again” or “UK Teams Exit” (hopefully not the case with the Rugby!). It might be a sudden burst of fresh Atlantic ozone from a breezy weather system or perhaps a new energy food now available in British supermarkets (‘WheatyDinner makes you a winner’). It’s certainly nothing to do with the taxman or the nation’s banks as they tend to take stuff away from us rather than put stuff in. Perhaps, along with shooting stars and UFOs, these victories are yet another strange phenomenon caused by the unexpected arrival of Jeremy Corbyn? Unlikely, as most of our successes happened before his election. So, it’s a mystery and like other unexplained events, I shall calmly marvel at our national brilliance and put it all down to Global Warming and the ‘feel-good’ factor of nice Sunday evenings brought on by the return of Downton Abbey.

It’d be good if these sporty triumphs kept going for a bit as we don’t want our successes to sizzle out like damp sausages on an October barbeque. One of the surest ways to maintain winning habits is to win at lots of world events in which no other country takes part. Americans are particularly good at this: they’ve been holding their own World Series since 1903 even though hardly anyone else in the world plays baseball. Likewise the NFL winners are referred to as World Football Champions even though no other country plays American Football. This isn’t cheating—it’s called ‘positive marketing’ and we’re pretty good at it too.

Here in the Southwest we’ve already established global fame with annual events like the ‘Dorset Knob Throwing Challenge’ (every May in the Dorset village of Cattistock) and the ‘World Nettle Eating Championships’ (every summer at the Bottle Inn in Marshwood). But we need many more weird and world shattering championships to keep ahead of the rest of the globe, so here are some lateral suggestions for the future. Local villages and towns and potential sponsors please take note:

In addition to Cheese Rolling which involves getting yourself and your cheese to the bottom of a hill, let’s set up other sports related to food. Orange Cricket comes to mind as do Melon Croquet and Apricot Golf. Egg Golf would be a fairly messy affair, but no doubt with lots of birdies (geddit?). Pumpkin or Marrow Rugby might be worth trying but only if they’re not too ripe otherwise we’d have to call it Squash. And Plum Ping Pong would make the table very sticky—you’d have to wear swimming things and get hosed down afterwards.

As well as Dorset Knobs, we could try hurling Devon cream teas (with or without the strawberries), dead badgers or West Bay mackerel. I had one of these (mackerel, not badgers) the other day and it was bent into a boomerang banana shape. Perhaps if I threw it, it would come back?

Given our new West Dorset recycling bins and highly complicated instructions, I’d like to introduce the World Recycling Championships. Nothing to do with a repeat of the Tour De France, but everything to do with putting the correct type of rubbish into its correct receptacle by the time the kids depart the house for the school bus. Competitors’ bins would be checked and timed against the clock and points deducted for putting tins into the garden waste or (most heinous of crimes) plastic cling film into the food bin!

I also like the idea of a local World Pooh Sticks Champion, a pet bunny show jumping and dressage contest (sort of Rabbit Badminton) and World Snail Racing—a bit like Formula One but taking two years (rather than two hours) to complete. Holy Mackerel (again)… I’m told that these three already exist! Ah well, what about Extreme Sports?

Some of you may have heard about Extreme Ironing—doing one’s shirts on top of a mountain or underwater etc… and yes, it does exist as a sport! For the truly insane, there’s Extreme Base Jumping which involves falling off tall cliffs and buildings like the Eiffel Tower with a small parachute (just like James Bond in A View to a Kill). I now suggest Extreme Sheep Dog Trials which is shortly to make a celebrity comeback on ITV with FlockStars (yes, really) taking over from the BBC after 40 years of One Man and his Dog. To be World Champion in my Extreme Dog Herding version, you don’t merely herd a flock of six meek sheep or pigs or even wayward ducks into a pen or through a gate. Instead you have to herd half a dozen domestic cats. I agree that this would be impossible for any dog (let alone any human being) to win, but it would make for highly amusing television.

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