I was going to dedicate the whole of my blog to the very sad news that the annual ‘madder than barking mad’ Cooper’s Hill (near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK) Cheese Roll has been cancelled. The race involves a giant Double Gloucester cheese being set loose from the top of Cooper’s Hill and competitors charging down the hill after it. The first person over the finish line at the bottom of the hill wins the cheese.
Accurate information is hard to come by, but the tradition is at least 200 years old. Each year the event has become more and more popular with contestants coming from across the world to compete or even simply to spectate. Last year 30,000 people came to watch and it is very funny with a capital F. It’s a sort of giant roly-poly where grown-ups get to re-enact their childhood game of rolling down a gentle slope in the local park. In the grown-up version competitors hurl themselves off the top of a one-in-one hill and career over in a series of ever more elaborate triples with double twists thrown in at regular intervals.
So who banned this festival of fun? The meanies at Health & Safety or as they are better known the Ministry of making up silly rules to stop people enjoying themselves. OK, so due to the steepness and uneven surface of the hill there are usually a number of injuries ranging from sprained ankles to broken bones and concussion. However a first-aid service is provided by the local St John Ambulance (Gloucester, Cheltenham and Stroud Divisions) at the bottom of the hill, with a volunteer rescue group on hand to carry down any casualties who do not end up at the bottom through gravity. This to me sounds like job done, having played a lot of rugby if ever the St John’s Ambulance was called onto the field, the injured party magically leapt back to their feet before the medic arrived. At Bath Rugby we had a brilliant first aider called Pete Pothercay (definitely the wrong spelling, sorry), he had a magic sponge and the ability to heal broken legs at the sprinkle of a bit of water. Thinking back he was actually the forerunner of Harry Potter.
So where is all of this local Brit stuff going? Well, my daughter Florence Prosser has a brilliant suggestion, relocate the cheese rolling to Big Red (a massive sand dune near Hatta). Wouldn’t that be fun?
And so to my second story of the week. For all of you who thought the Japanese have the monopoly on extreme (bordering on seriously dangerous) reality TV shows you are very wrong. The French have just entered the contest and the Eurovision judges have given their latest game the full ten plus two bonus points. The game, conjured up by a game show creator, invited contestants to a Mastermind-style knock out contest. In the French version of the game the contestant was strapped into the chair but rather than being a comfortable black leather version it bore more relation to the variety used in American states that don’t trust lethal injections. The quiz master was one of the contestants, they all asked a question and if the victim in the electric chair got it wrong they pulled a lever which administered an electric shock. Also each time a question was wrongly answered the voltage was increased, ouch and ouch again. Towards the end, the contestant was told by the game show host that the next shock they administered was of near fatal proportions. Refusal to pull the lever resulted in eviction from the game – 82% pulled the lever!
In truth the person in the chair was an actor and there was no electric shock involved. However this social experiment demonstrated the power of reality TV and that people in power follow the same behaviour patterns whatever their nationality.
On that sober note it’s time for a jovial top 5. Best comedians not including my mate Roy ‘The Legend’ Palmer who could make me laugh at a joke he had already told me 20 times or David Trick whose after dinner speeches always had most of the audience under the table by halfway through. At this point I have to admit that I can’t remember the names of the comedians the Laughter Factory, Dubai, bring out every month so I am going to have to go for TV comedians. I’m sorry so many are yesterday’s vintage but I’ve been away from home for too many years.
- Michael McIntyre
- Tommy Cooper
- French and Saunders
- Eddie Izzard
- Cast of Mock the Week (Dara O Briain, Hugh Dennis, Andy Parsons, Russel Howard, Frank Boyle, Rory Bremner)
I’m eager to be enlightened…please add your comments.