Category Archives: Sport

Goat dragging and mounted girl chasing near climax at the World Nomad Games

Buzkashi_Game (Photo by Gideon Tsang via Wikipedia)

Buzkashi as played in Afghanistan (goat carcass on the right)  (Photograph by Gideon Tsang via Wikipedia)

In my blog yesterday, I mentioned that my friend Lynn had drawn to my attention that the first World Nomad Games are currently taking place in Kyrgyzstan – in fact, on the shores of Issyk-Kul, in Cholpon-Ata City.

Information on this event is, alas, a bit thin on the ground and I seem to have missed a BBC TV report from the Games. They started on Tuesday and climax tomorrow with the finals of the traditional Central Asian sport of Kok-Boru (goat dragging – also known as Buzkashi and Kokpar).

Unfortunately, this blog has no contacts in Kyrgyzstan (though I am open to offers), so I am reliant heavily on the BBC who were told by nomad storyteller Doolotbek Sidikov:

“We inherited Kok-Boru from our ancestors. Courageous and brave men were picked up to look after the horses and sheep and often wolves would attack them. When a pack of wolves would attack them, they would surround them in a circle and then grab the wolves with their bare hands to throw them away, sometimes tearing them apart. People then started using a dead goat as game to practise.”

It sounds similar to how football in Scotland developed from regular Saturday night drinking bouts in Glasgow.

A Kyrgyz stamp featuring horse wrestling

A Kyrgyz stamp featuring horse wrestling

But the World Nomad Games in Kyrgyzstan is far more that goat-dragging. It is a multi-sport event which also includes Oodarysh (wrestling on a horse), Tyin Emmei (picking up a coin while riding a horse at full speed) and the not-fully-explained Toguz Korkool. As far as I can figure out, this is something akin to a ‘board game’ played in a field of pits with 90 goat droppings.

Over-all,  400 athletes from 20 countries are taking part including competitors from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia (Altai, Bashkiria, Buryatia, Yakutia etc), Tajikistan, Turkey,  Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The organising committee point out that the “sports are in no way inferior in staginess and popularity of the modern Olympics. Games give powerful impetus to rebirth of original national sports, spiritual self-awareness.”

The Kyrgyzstan embassy also points out that “the near-absence of chemical fertilisers gives Kyrgyz beans an environmental purity that beans from other countries can’t match.”

Perhaps one of the nomad sports least likely to make a transition to the Olympic Games is Kyz-Kuumai – Chasing Girls On Horseback.

Dzangil Dairbekova whips boys

Dzangil Dairbekova told the BBC why she likes whipping boys

One of the sport’s female participants – Dzangil Dairbekova –  explains:

“I have competed in girl chasing for over four years now. Girl chasing is trying to avoid getting captured by a boy. If he catches her, he is allowed to kiss her three times but, if the girl escapes, then she can whip him three times. I have whipped boys many times. I love it and it makes me feel very much like a nomad.”

The BBC report on the World Nomad Games is on YouTube.

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When an oeuf is an oeuf at the annual World Egg Throwing Championships

World Egg Throwing Federation President Andy Dunlop with enthusiastic tosser

World Egg Throwing Federation President Andy Dunlop with enthusiastic young tosser

At the annual World Egg Throwing Championships in Lincolnshire, no edible eggs are used, so no food is wasted. Sort of.

There are long-distance egg throwing and catching contests. There is the Trebuchet competition where contestants use home-made giant catapults (based on medieval siege engines) to throw eggs. And, of course, there is Russian Egg Roulette.

In 2012, I was runner-up in the Russian Egg Roulette Championship. I had high hopes of doing even better last year but, beneath my hard-boiled exterior lies a wobbly centre. I cracked under the pressure of high eggpectations and was beaten in the first round. For months afterwards, my mind was scrambled and I was merely a shell of the man I had once been.

My view as smashed Englishman Jerry Cullen fails

My view as smashing Englishman Jerry Cullen fails

This year – the year of the Scottish Independence vote, when my country of birth may at last free itself from the yolk of English oppression – I had hopes I could show the heathen English what true Scotch eggs competitors are made of.

World Egg Throwing Federation President Andy Dunlop tells me that 64 people started the Russian Egg Roulette Championships yesterday. He may be over-egging it. I think there might have been 32. But there were certainly a lot.

To remind you, Russian Egg Roulette is the sport in which two contestants face each other across a table on which there stands a box of six eggs: five hard-boiled, one raw. Contestants take turns to smash an egg on their forehead. The one who discovers the raw egg loses. It is a knockout competition. Sometimes literally.

I bring shame on the Scottish nation yesterday (Photograph by Gail Deptfod)

I let down myself and the entire Scottish nation yesterday (Photograph by Gail Deptfod)

Yesterday, I triumphed in the early rounds, beating my 2012 nemesis Jerry Cullen – who was wearing an England football shirt, I think, just to rile me.

I triumphed in the Quarter Finals, but then I was shamed by Fate in the Semi-Finals. I suspected fowl play.

I consoled myself by talking to former World Gravy Wrestling champion Joel Hicks.

Joel Hicks scrambling for safety yesterday

Joel Hicks was scrambling for safety yesterday

When we chatted for my blog last year at the World Egg Throwing Championships, he was a human target dressed as a boxer and as a Samurai Warrior. This year, he was the anarchist hero of V For Vendetta.

“You been doing anything interesting this week?” I asked him.

“I did the Mud Runner Oblivion yesterday,” he told me. “That’s a 10k mud run near Gloucester. I’m absolutely shattered. I write for Obstacle Race magazine, so I do all the mud runs.”

Obstacle Race magazine?” I asked. “Has that got a big circulation?”

“Yes,” said Joel. “It’s sold in WH Smiths. It is a massive, massive industry these days. Things like Tough GuyTough Mudder. There’s so many and it’s a million dollar industry.”

“Tough Mudder?” I asked.

Joel Hicks: a man egged-on to do charity work

Joel Hicks: a man egged-on to do charity work

“Tough Mudder,” Joel confirmed.

“Do you get paid for any of these events?” I asked. “It’s all for charity?”

“It’s all part of the Always With a Smile Foundation, which is what I do in my spare time to try and keep people smiling. It’s tiring stuff sometimes, though not as painful as today.”

“Painful?” I asked.

“Yeah. You wanna stand here and have eggs hurled at you by grown men at 100mph who have no thought for how it feels when it hits.”

“Do you wear a cricket box over your genitals?” I asked.

“No. Every year, I think I should have some protection but I kinda feel it’s cheating.”

Joel Hicks with right hand egg man John Deptford

Joel Hicks with the Championships’ l’eggman John Deptford

This coming Saturday, Joel is taking part in The Color Run in Manchester.

“It’s a race franchise,” he told me, “where you run 5k and start in white but every kilometre they throw coloured powder over you. Then, on Sunday, it’s a trip to Wales for The Naked Run, which is 5k, usually in good weather. The weather affects some men more than others.

“The weekend after that, on Saturday I’ll be down on the South Coast for the Worthing Birdman competition where they build flying machines and jump off the pier. And then back up to Wolverhampton on Sunday for the Tough Guy event called Nettle Warrior, which is their summer obstacle course race.”

“Nettle Warrior,” I said, “sounds painful.”

“It IS very painful,” replied Joel. “A 10-12 mile cross-country run followed by a 2-mile, purpose-built, multi-million pound assault course.”

One girl did not have to throw so far yesterday

One little girl yesterday was right on target with her egg

“An assault course of nettles?” I asked.

“No no,” said Joel, “all sorts of contraptions. The nettles come in, really, in the 10-12 mile cross-country run.”

“Have they put the nettles in for you?” I asked.

“They grow naturally,” said Joel. “Six or seven feet high all on their own. They design the course to the features on the ground. Ah! There’s some nettles! We’ll make then run through that bit!”

A typical egg-plosion yesterday

A typical egg-plosion yesterday. The pun never ends.

I’m busy all through the year. Fifty-odd events every year.”

“Very odd,” I said.

“Every weekend and sometimes twice,” said Joel.

“Out of the frying pan…” I said.

In August, World Egg Throwing Federation President Andy Dunlop will be supervising the Scottish National Russian Egg Roulette Championships during the Edinburgh Fringe as part of the Increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show. He may or may not be accompanied by his trusty l’oeuftenant John Deptford.

I saw the back of Andy Dunlop as I left yesterday

I was glad to see the back of Andy Dunlop yesterday

In a few days, Andy is off to Holland for their Egg Throwing Championships. He will be back.

But John Deptford is going to Siberia on Friday and has no idea when he will be back, if at all. The insects may kill him. He is going to Mirny where, he tells me, “the mosquitos have been known to carry babies away and the best mosquito repellent is a shotgun.”

Yesterday, as I left the Championship Field in Lincolnshire, Andy Dunlop was being pelted with the remaining eggs. I hope this will become an annual tradition. Andy does not. This morning, he told me he had a serious lip injury.

For more on Eggmen, I refer you to The Beatles’ I Am The Walrus

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Egg-throwing, cabbage-hurling, onion-wanging and Hardee Comedy Awards

Spot The Cabbage competition 2014

A 2014 Spot The Cabbage competition in Lincolnshire

Throwing things at other things is always interesting especially, it seems, in Lincolnshire.

In a couple of weeks, the World Egg Throwing Championships take place in Lincolnshire and, yesterday, I went up to Holbeach Town & Country Fayre to see cabbage hurling and onion wanging (that’s hurling too).

Both events are connected to the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Andy Dunlop, President of the World Egg Throwing Federation, supervises the Scottish National Russian Egg Roulette Championships during the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the end of August.

And John Ward, supervisor of cabbage hurling and onion wanging, designed the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Award trophies.

Egg smashes on forehead in Amritsar Test Match

Russian Egg Roulette at the Amritsar Test Match in India

Russian Egg Roulette is a bit like the Russian Roulette seen in The Deer Hunter but without bullets and with eggs. It involves two contestants sitting opposite each other at a table on which is a box of six eggs. Five of the eggs are hard-boiled; one is raw and will smash on impact. Each contestant takes it in turn to smash an egg on their forehead. The one who finds the raw egg loses. It is a knockout competition.

Cabbage hurling is for adults. Onion wanging (because of the smaller size of the missile) is for children.

At the World Egg Throwing Championships, trebuchets (basically large catapults similar to but smaller than medieval siege catapults) are used to throw eggs. You have to build and bring your own trebuchets.

Careful preparation is all in the cabbage hurling world

Careful preparation is important in the cabbage hurling world

Thus, too, with cabbage hurling and onion wanging, except two trebuchets are provided.

Yesterday, there were 3½ tons of cabbages delivered in a refrigerated trailer.

“They’re actually grown for coleslaw production,” John Ward told me. “That’s why they’re white not green. They’re all Grade 1. Last year, I asked: Any chance of a box of cabbages? and yea and behold this behemoth of a truck arrived with 4 tons of cabbages. We asked them to cut it back to 3½ tons this year. There’s a limit to how much you can hurl in one afternoon and a lot of them get re-cycled in the field. Each team of three has three attempts and some of the contestants run up and retrieve and use the same cabbage again, shouting: That’s my lucky cabbage!”

Cabbages hurled at tyre targets

Cabbages are hurled at multi-dimensional tractor tyre targets

The object is to catapult the cabbage into one of several marked vehicle tyres for 10, 20, 25 or 50 points. The 10 point tyre is large; the 50 point type is small.

John Ward, who has been known to encourage journalists to call him a ‘junkist’,  told me: “All the scrap metal to build the two trebuchets came from farms in the area. The uprights are from the transit cases for Kubota garden tractors which come from Japan. In transit, they have metal cages, then a wooden box inside and then the tractors are inside that. Normally the cages are unbolted and thrown away as scrap. Last year, someone told me he had a yard full of them and asked: Are they any use to you? ARE THEY ANY USE????? Red rag. Bull.”

John Ward contemplates the ecological impact of hurling

John Ward contemplates the ecological impact of his hurling

“Do you get complaints about wasting food?” I asked.

“I had some herbert this morning,” John told me. “who was ranting at me about wasting food and I told him: Well, if you come back later today, you’ll find it’s all been picked up – all the loose leaves and everything – and it all goes to animal feed. Cows thrive on all this sort of stuff. There’s no waste. There’s an end product. It’s a win-win situation. We get entertainment. The cows get fed.”

“You could franchise cabbage hurling,” I suggested.

“We’ve been asked to take it round other shows in Lincolnshire. But, at the end of the day, No, it stops here. It’s associated with Holbeach Town & Country Show. Like they have cheese-rolling in the West Country.”

2014 Cabbage Hurling winners with John Ward (lorry behind had 3½ tons of cabbages)

The 2014 Cabbage Hurling winners with John Ward yesterday (The lorry behind had delivered over 3½ tons of cabbages)

The winners get £150 and a silver cup which they keep for a year.

With the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards, the winner gets one of the eccentric trophies designed by John Ward. But he/she gets to keep that trophy forever. I like to think, rather than give a trophy which the winner keeps only for a year, with the Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards, we give the winner something interestingly decorative which lasts longer, like herpes.

There is a video report on Cabbage Hurling on the BBC website

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Eggs acting standards: yesterday I was beaten by Simon Cowell’s stand-in

(A version of this piece was also published on the Indian news site WSN)

andydunlop_30june2013_cut2

Andy – out standing in his own field

Yesterday, I went to the 8th annual World Egg Throwing Championships at Swaton in Lincolnshire.

When I arrived, World Egg Throwing Federation President Andy Dunlop told me there was room for me in the Russian Egg Roulette Championship. Last year, I acquitted myself well – I was runner-up. Not bad for a first attempt.

Russian Egg Roulette is the internationally-recognised sport in which two competitors sit facing each other across a table on which lie six eggs – five hard-boiled; one raw. Each competitor then takes it in turn to smash an egg of his or her forehead. The one who smashes the raw egg on their forehead – with explosive results – loses.

“All the spots for competitors (over 30 of them) are already filled up,” Andy told me when I arrived, “but we have left a couple of spaces for Simon Cowell and for Natalie Holt, the woman who threw eggs at Simon on Britain’s Got Talent. We’ve invited both of them but we’re not totally certain if they will turn up. If Simon Cowell does not turn up, then we have a man called Mark Heselwood prepared to stand in for him.”

Sadly, Simon Cowell did not turn up and, even more sadly, I was beaten by Mark Heselwood in the first round of the Russian Egg Roulette. The only fact which slightly mended my crushed ego was that Mark went on to actually win the over-all title of World Russian Egg Roulette Champion.

At Swaton yesterday, there were egg teams from Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Japan, Slovenia and South Africa competing not just in Russian Egg Roulette but in the main Egg Throwing event and the Egg Throwing Static Relay contest and the World Egg Trebuchet Challenge, in which catapults based on medieval siege engines propel eggs set distances to be caught by plucky teams. All the eggs are rejects or outdated, so no food is wasted.

The Japanese gained face - and eggs -and a gold medal title

The Japanese gained face – and eggs – and a gold medal title

“There’s a team from Japanese national TV,” Andy told me when I arrived. “They have six cameras, one sound man, a make-up guy, a team of four, two directors and a producer,. They flew in specially for this last week.

“The team consists of two Japanese baseball players who can throw a good distance, one eggspert who runs a chicken farm and one manager who, before he became a serious actor, was a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger on TV. They’re making a one-hour documentary. What they do on their programme is take ordinary people with some skills and send them across the world trying to bring back gold medals to Japan. They’ve been here for a week and they’re here for another week.

“As a result of this, we’re hoping to set up an annual Japanese Egg Throwing Championship. We’ve just confirmed the first national Australian Egg Throwing Championships on 5th August

“When are the English Championships?” I asked.

“July 13th in Surrey. Then there’s the Dutch national Championships. The Belgian national championships are on 14th August…”

Russian Egg Roulette at last year's Edinburgh Fringe

Russian Egg Roulette at last year’s Malcolm Hardee Show

“And I’m very proud,” I interrupted, “that the Scottish national open Russian Egg Roulette Championships are taking place during the increasingly prestigious Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show at the Edinburgh Fringe on 23rd August.”

“Indeed,” said Andy.

“It will look good in my blog if I say that,” I said.

“Indeed,” said Andy. “And, next May, we’ve got the Finnish national Russian Egg Roulette Championship.”

“Whatever happened,” I asked, “to that Australian children’s TV show who were going to to be filming Australian competitors egg throwing at the Fringe?”

“They are going to be filming here on 11th September,” replied Andy. “They couldn’t fit their shooting in with the Edinburgh Fringe times.”

“So they’re doing it in Swaton?” I asked.

“Yes,” said Andy, “at the special training course we’ve set up. It’s a long field with a mown strip down it. The Japanese, the Irish and the German teams have been all using it in the last few days at separate times so they don’t have to scramble for facilities.

Not catching an egg yesterday

Not catching an egg yesterday

“It’s a proper course. When you see Wild Willie O’Donovan, the Irish guy, watch how he throws the egg compared to anyone else. He is the Irish Road Bowling champion. You know road bowling? A 28 ounce steel ball over a three mile course in the least number of throws. Wild Willie’s unusual technique in egg-throwing is an under-arm lob which is peculiar to road bowling. He’s now successfully brought that technique across to British egg throwing and he’s the World Record Holder for Egg Throwing, set at the Irish national Egg Throwing Championships in Connacht four weeks ago – 71.2 metres.”

“You are a man who lives for egg statistics,” I suggested.

“I was interviewed on TalkSport Radio the other day,” admitted Andy. “I gave them all these statistics and no puns and they said You should be on Mastermind with your knowledge of Egg Throwing. But, of course, the only person who could set the questions would be me. That’s a bit of a problem.

“The good story, though,” added Andy, “is us raising – we hope – over £10,000 for charity today.”

Proceeds will go to leukaemia research, the local air ambulance and the emergency response organisation Lives.

“Japanese TV have given us a lot of money,” said Andy. “They were going to give us a donation but we’ve been so good to them over the last 3 or 4 days – organising and setting up things for them – that they’ve more than tripled their donation.”

“How did they fit that into their budget?” I asked.

“They’ve put it down as provision, organisation and facilitation fees.”

“Which, indeed, it is,” I said.

“Indeed,” said Andy.

“How did your Indian trip go?” I asked. (I blogged about it back in March.)

“Four guys from Sleaford went across there and kicked India’s arse,” said Andy. “We won the series 4-3 and beat 1.2 billion Indians at Russian Egg Roulette. But, while we were over there, we were also inoculating 300 million under-5-year-olds in a Weekend For Polio. In the last 20 years, every kid under 5 has been inoculated. The Rotary Club raised and spent £300 million on it. And the much-maligned Bill Gates gave us £300 million as well. We think polio has now gone in India. We were over there three years ago and we’ve been inoculating twice a year since then and polio is now only left in bits of the north west frontier in Pakistan and the south east frontier of Afghanistan.”

“And that’s because it’s too dangerous to go in?” I asked.

Even armour-wearing competitors lost out yesterday

Even armour-wearing roulette competitors lost out yesterday

“Well, it was,” said Andy. “The fundamentalists were slaughtering the people who were doing it – they killed 30 at the beginning of this year –  young nurses, young girls who were doing it. But the Taliban have now been persuaded that it’s not a plot of the Americans to sterilise all the kids and it’s actually stopping polio and they’ve actually come on side and are now actually protecting the polio inoculators.”

At that point, Andy was called away to be interviewed by Reuters.

The good news at the end of the day was that the Japanese won the World Egg Trebuchet Challenge, got their gold medal and may be back next year to defend their title.

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How to kick women plus Bob Slayer’s Edinburgh Fringe review : 1 star, 2 balls

WARNING: This blog has language offensive to non- Glaswegians.

Bob Slayer: one of the most Marmite of performers?

I woke up at 4.00am this morning and, after listening to stories about women kicking each other, I checked my e-mails.

One of these, inevitably, was from comedian Bob Slayer. His latest Edinburgh Fringe show Bob Slayer – He’s a Very Naughty Boy – has received a one star review from The Skinny.

“I am very proud of this review,” he tells me – and I believe him.

You can read the review online here, but I think it is worth me risking copyright infringement by re-printing it, if only because it includes a link to this blog. It goes like this…

____________________

Bob Slayer appears with no jokes and no material, and ends up with no clothes. Although there’s a sound of laughter, we’re not quite sure why. Surrealism is not dead, it seems.

Diamonds from coal is what we’re after as he focuses on a few members of the audience to try to coax something into the gig. A suitcase of props is used to re-enact a children’s story, the lead character a good sport from the small crowd.  It’s shambolic, usually awkward and frequently painful, yet there’s a split in the crowd as some lap it up.

Interaction with the audience should lead to more chuckles, but there’s little flow to proceedings. The show becomes something of an open mic night, individuals cajoled to the spotlight, and it is at all times entirely unpredictable.

Slayer leaves the stage to give way to a perplexing straight soliloquy from one, unabashed nudity to another, and an a capella rendition of Our House by yet one more. It’s madness indeed and the sight of a nude Slayer at its death, balls bouncing as he jogs on the spot, seems, strangely, to be the only possible conclusion.

Footnote: Bob Slayer has written his own very amusing review of this performance on John Fleming’s blog

____________________

I feel I should point out that Bob Slayer will be naked again when he performs as part of the Greatest Show on Legs at my two-hour Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show in Edinburgh on Friday 24th August.

Now back to women kicking each other.

Janey Godley demonstrates how to kick people

My Glaswegian comedy chum Janey Godley has descended on my rented flat in Edinburgh for a couple of nights while she does various Fringe shows. I now know what Iraq felt like when the Americans arrived.

As I only had three hours sleep the previous night – Paul Provenza’s late Set List show was to blame – I had a half hour doze on the living room floor at 10.00pm last night… except I did not wake up until 4.00am this morning, when Janey arrived back at the flat with a clatter of sausage rolls and beef sandwiches. How does anyone make bread clatter? It was like a juggler throwing a tantrum in a kitchen.

When I had gone to sleep on the floor, Janey had been asleep in the spare bedroom. While I was in the land of nod, she had woken up, gone out, probably attacked people in the street, then certainly performed at the late-night Spank! show and she had just come back, I suspect, with the sole purpose of waking me up by recreating the Battle of El Alamein in the kitchen.

“The Sunday Herald phoned me up yesterday and asked for my best memories of the Olympics,” she told me.

“What’s the uncensored version?” I asked.

“The gymnastics men,” she said, “on that big padded horse thing like in the war film. The fake horse with the two handles. They hold on to the handles, then swing their legs round and try to not catch their balls on it. That’s an amazing sport. Men swinging their big long legs round a fake horse trying not to catch their cock on it. And then Jade Jones was great.”

“Who’s she?” I asked.

“She’s a wee Welsh taekwondo girl who won a gold medal for Britain. Never heard of her before. All we ever got on the news for four fucking years was that wee Tom Daley boy in his pants. Tom Daley the diver. He was constantly on the news for four years, sitting in his swimming trunks and then he didn’t win a gold medal.

“But Jade Jones, who we’d never seen, is a wee chick who is only 19 and taekwondo is a sport where you can kick in the body, you can do a roundhouse to the head, but what they quite favour is a quick kick to the cunt. And she won a gold doing it. I was never good at much, she said, but then they found I could kick quite high and they made me do this sport. Now she just goes around kicking women in the fanny.”

“A roundhouse?” I asked.

“You’ve seen it in all the Steven Seagal movies,” Janey explained, “where he turns his body round like a windmill with his leg out and cracks somebody in the head.”

“Would you like to demonstrate?” I asked.

“I WILL kick you in the fucking head,” said Janey. “Taekwondo  is great. They go tippy-toes… tippy-toes… tippy-toes… kick… tippy-toes… kick… tippy-toes… kick. I thought This is fucking fantastic! Why did I not know this existed? I think every single angry, violent, public fight should be sorted by women outside pubs not stabbing or screaming and bitching, just going tippy-toes… tippy-toes… tippy-toes… and then trying to kick each other in the fanny. Arguments would get resolved and people would get to watch it.”

“Not for posh folk, then,” I said.

“For them, there’s dressage,” said Janey. “Dressage is like Mrs Poshingtons riding horses that look like they’re having a very slow nervous breakdown doing tippy-toes… tippy-toes… Who the fuck makes horses do that? Really bored, rich people, that’s who. You don’t have people from Castlemilk in Glasgow saying Ma wee Tanya-Marie’s into dressage! and then getting a pony to go tippy-toes into the city centre.

“Someone must have said: You know what I like? I like a horse galloping as Nature intended with its big flanks sweating and running. And some other posh person’s gone: No, I want to see a horse walk like it’s got big elastic bands round its legs. What the fuck is that about?”

“Was it a good idea to have a sleep before the gig or a bad idea?” I asked her.

“When I was out yesterday,” she told me, “I started to get cold and that made me sleepy. I had on flip-flops and bare feet and pyjama bottoms and a top.”

“In the street?” I asked.

“Yeah,” she replied. “It’s called fashion. So I came back and went to bed and was absolutely soaked in sweat when I woke up, but it’s not the onset of the menopause. It would be brilliant if it was: I was promised a menopause and it’s not happened. I was told my womb would dry up, I was told I’d get quite cranky and shouty…”

“GET quite cranky and shouty?” I interrupted. “GET?”

“That’s what my husband said too,” admitted Janey. “He said: So this is where the barrier’s set already and it’s about to go UP a crank? I told him he had to be prepared for me to get judgmental, sweaty, hot and angry. I might throw my wobblies for no good reason and there might be times when I’m highly emotional.

“My husband just looked at me and said: You’re already all o’ they things and you have been since you were seventeen. So I have all this to look forward to and then my vagina dries up. Great. But it hasn’t happened yet. I was promised a menopause, but my ovaries are saying No, we’re still quite healthy and releasing eggs like a fucking battery hen. I’ve been told my ovaries will dry up like walnuts and my nipples will fall off and my skin will go flakey and I’ll start shouting at people.”

I feel I should point out – publicity is everything at the Fringe – that Janey Godley will be appearing on my two-hour Malcolm Hardee Comedy Awards Show in Edinburgh on Friday 24th August.

She may kick. She will shout.

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The Olympic torch came to uncaring Greenwich this morning amid officials

A sign of things to come: ordinary roads blocked off by police

My eternally-un-named friend lives in Greenwich. She hates it. I understand why.

Last night, by the River Thames, there were food tents, comedy shows and a bandstand with music. A two minute walk away, we passed two men in their late 20s or early 30s standing on a street corner by Creek Road, near the Up The Creek comedy club. One was talking on his mobile phone:

Greenwich foreground; with a background in the Isle of Dogs

“The guy is testing the stuff and then he’s giving me the cash,” he said to the unseen person.

A little later, after dark, nearby, we passed by a children’s play area amid council blocks. Three boys in their late teens passed through quickly, one putting a white plastic bag at the top of the children’s slide, as if leaving it for someone to collect later.

Greenwich Council is notoriously uncaring unless you live in one of the elite streets. It is a bit like North Korea. It looks stylish on the outside but has been allowed to rot at its core by uncaring bureaucrats.

Sikhing good publicity by giving away free vegetable rolls

So I was interested to see the so-called Olympic Torch Relay pass through Greenwich early this morning. The small central one-way system in town was cordoned off with occasional single lines of partially-interested onlookers standing behind metal barriers.

The parade: policemen and officials

“It’s only three seconds of your life.” I heard one adult tell a child.

It was like a half-hearted small town parade where the people in official jackets outnumbered the onlookers and it was noticeable for occasionally smiling policemen. I was reminded of a line from the movie Get Carter:

“You were lucky. They also kill people.”

I guess the Metropolitan Police saw it as a welcome PR opportunity to try to distract from the more realistic image yesterday of the thuggish copper who killed an entirely random innocent man and got away with it despite a 12-year record of violence against ordinary people. It is rare that the left wing Daily Mirror and the right wing Daily Mail newspaper both run stories about endemic police brutality.

The Olympic shenanigans this morning were all about PR.

Forget athletics coaches: it’s all about Coca Cola coaches

There were the red Coca Cola frisbees, a gigantic red Coca Cola coach, small Marks & Spencer paper triangles with a union flag design on one side and, on the other, the slogan On Your Marks… for a Summer to remember.

People were taking photos with smart phones and iPads; the traffic was blocked by policemen on bikes.

A bemused Chinese interview beside the Cutty Sark

A man from some Chinese television company was interviewing a bemused woman beside the Cutty Sark, leaflets were being handed out for Greenwich’s Premier Gym & Health Club, a group of Sikhs were giving out free vegetable roti rolls promoting Langgar 2012 – “Sikhs serving langgar and embracing diversity”.

And, in among it all, barely glimpsed, was a small woman speeding along the road in a wheelchair holding aloft a golden Olympic torch and…

Glimpsed for a second – a man with an Olympic torch

…a minute later round the corner, there was a man in white running with the same Olympic torch. They seemed an unimportant afterthought.

Nearby, on the Thames, the looming grey warship with the attack helicopters on deck waited for any terrorist incident. Up the hill on Blackheath, the ground-to-air missile system was presumably being manned. And somewhere, atop various  South London blocks of flats, were other missile defence systems.

Shock! Amazement! Met Police killed non-one this morning

But, in Greenwich this morning, the Torch Relay seemed to be mostly an excuse for people to dress up in pink or green or red tops as wardens or volunteers or crowd-controllers and for the police to parade in yellow jackets on motor bikes.

People had come out in small numbers to see the spectacle of people organising things.

Attack helicopters and Yuppies by the Thames in Greenwich

For much the same reason, next Friday I will be watching the Olympics’ Opening Ceremony… To see how the highly-talented director Danny Boyle has spent his multi-million pound budget. And, like everyone else, just in case there is a spectacular terrorist attack live on television.

Last August I missed the English riots by being in Scotland. This year I will miss the English Olympics for the same reason.

I think the Edinburgh Fringe will have fewer sponsors and a few more laughs.

My eternally-un-named friend’s opinion?

“It’s just something else to put up with, like the weather. I don’t want to be here.”

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Filed under Drugs, London, Olympics, PR, Sponsorship, Sport

World Egg Throwing Championships: cheaper and funnier than the Olympics

(Versions of this piece were published by the Huffington Post) and on the Indian WeSpeakNews website.

Consequences of failing to catch

I woke up this morning in the middle of a dream about comedian Helen Keen riding at breakneck speed atop a camel racing along Old Compton Street in Soho while her writing partner Miriam Underhill kept pace by calmly walking with a large brown bird (not a falcon) on her ungloved hand.

I used to regret that I could never remember my dreams. Now I should perhaps be concerned that yesterday was almost as surreal as my dream.

I went to the World Egg Throwing Championships in a very large field at Swaton in Lincolnshire. There were teams from Germany, Greece, Holland, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, the UK and the USA

John Ward with his grate egg Olympic torch

Events included long-distance egg throwing, the egg throwing static relay, the World Egg Trebuchet Challenge and, terrifyingly for me, the World Russian Egg Roulette championship. Why the Russian Roulette event was personally terrifying I will explain later but, initially, I was there to support my chum, mad inventor John Ward, who turned up wearing a Mat Hatter’s top hat and holding what he called an Olympic Egg Torch. This appeared to be a gold-painted cheese-grater on top of a gold-pained cracked wooden egg on top of a silver bicycle horn.

“I thought other people would be dressed up too,” he told me in a vain attempt to explain the hat. “Egg throwing is the People’s sport,” he added. “It’s cheaper than the Olympics.”

John Ward and others catapulting eggs

John Ward also came with a nine feet high wooden catapult, because the World Egg Trebuchet Challenge not surprisingly involves trebuchets which are, according to my dictionary, “machines used in medieval siege warfare for hurling large stones or other missiles”. There were five in the contest. John Ward had only had time to spend three days building his and competed valiantly for Queen and country but, maintaining an age-old British tradition in field sports, failed.

Which brings us to the Russian Egg Roulette event in which John Ward was also competing.

This involves two seated people facing each other across a table – as in The Deer Hunter, but with a box of six eggs instead of a revolver with one single deadly bullet. The twist is that five of the six eggs are boiled and one is raw.

An Irish competitor comes to a not very unusually sticky end

Each competitor then takes it in turns to smash an egg of their choice onto their forehead. If the egg is boiled, it does not explode into sticky gunge all over their forehead. If it is the raw egg, then… erm… it does. Obviously, the person who smashes the raw egg onto his or her forehead loses. And gets sticky.

Imagine my surprise, dear reader, when I heard my name called for this event.

This is one of the downsides of having worked on the slapstick children’s TV show Tiswas. When I was a researcher on the show, people I met (for research purposes) felt duty-bound to ram a custard pie in my face to show they had a sense of humour. Oh my! How I laughed.

Organiser Andy Dunlop provides ammunition

At the World Egg Throwing Championships, very highly efficient organiser Andy Dunlop thought he would surprise me by putting me in the Russian Egg Roulette event and announcing me as “former Tiswas wordsmith John Fleming”.

In fact, I was never a Tiswas scriptwriter. In my day, that considerable honour was held by David McKellar, a man eternally worshipped by me for having previously written the weather forecaster line: “And now, bad news for 4-foot dwarfs… 5-foot snowdrifts.”

Aaaannnny-way……

One of the other Russian Egg Roulette contestants was one of the two identical twins representing Greece, but the organisers were unsure which one it was.

World Gravy Wrestling Champion fails in Russian Roulette

Another was handsome hunk Joel Hicks, male model and World Gravy Wrestling Champion, who had come stripped to the waist and dressed in shorts and boxing gloves as Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky. Earlier, he had been the human target in a rather random Target Egg Throwing event and, as a result, spent the whole afternoon covered in dried egg yolk with fragments of embedded eggshell sticking out of his face.

I triumphed in the Russian Egg Roulette heats in face-offs with two small children – who seemed to be the only children in the contest, the others being egg-hardened professionals. As my second tiny opponent smashed the raw egg against her forehead, the crowd roared and I heard event organiser Andy Dunlop yell out: “Now that’s fun! THIS is entertainment!”

I fail to mask my gloating at the sticky shame of a Dutch girl

I was equally successful against a very attractive Dutch girl. I suspect Dutch girls smashing eggs on their foreheads commands a very high price in some quarters.

I had decided to represent Scotland in this contest, as I had been wantonly and incorrectly introduced as: “John Fleming representing England” and so I started singing Flower of Scotland, which was an unfortunate choice, as I discovered I only knew the first four words – Oh flower of Scotland… No-one was impressed.

John Ward smashes the thankfully losing egg on his forehead

Bizarrely (as, by its nature, it is not possible to ‘fix’ a Russian Egg Roulette contest) I faced John Ward in the semi-final. I triumphed again. He had the minor consolation of an in-depth interview (I kid you not) by an unsmiling film crew from some Russian television station and he later told me: “The interviewer guy said It will not be transmitted until July – I imagine they must be vetting the footage for any coded messages.”

My nemesis: clearly a man of extreme brutality

In the grand final, I then unfortunately faced a large man called Jerry Cullen dressed in black wearing sunglasses. Very intimidating he was. Hard-boiled, some might say, but not me. Oh no, not me.

The first four of the six eggs we smashed on our foreheads were, indeed, hard-boiled, leaving only two more eggs – one for each of us.

At this point, a lesser egg contestant might have cracked and, admittedly, I resorted to saying, “I’m doomed, I’m doomed,” in the best John Laurie (from Dad’s Army) accent I could muster.

It was like a penalty shoot-out in a football match, so I was relieved not to be representing England.

The man in black went first… smashed the egg against his forehead… and it was hard boiled. He had won the contest.

Cameraman + small child gloat over my ignominious defeat

But this meant I had to smash the final egg against my forehead knowing it was raw and would explode into yellow gunge. I thought of bravely saying something like, “The yolk is on me,” but even I baulked that. So I just smashed the egg onto my forehead as the – I felt somewhat unsympathetic – onlookers rhythmically chanted “Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat! Splat!” until the deed was done.

A broken man with mangled egg and a medal

The good news was that I got an unexpected runners-up medal – a silver star with a picture of a hen on it – with a red-white-and-blue ribbon to go round my neck. My chest swelled with patriotic pride. I felt I had not totally let down the nation of my birth.

Though, unlike the Olympic Games, there is no xenophobia at the World Egg Throwing Championships. The static relay event was won by a team of Germans, Greeks, Irish and English. I chatted to two of these fine athletes: Reg Marchant from Catford and his partner Sandy Winterton from Dagenham.

“I understand this is your first time being a tosser in public,” I said to Reg.

Reg and Sandy: two triumphant tossers amid trebuchets

“Yes,” Reg answered, “but I do actually practise tossing every other day. Sandy does it for me quite a lot. Sandy said to me Do you want to toss in public at the World Championships, so we came and it’s been great.”

“It’s been wonderful,” agreed Sandy.

“We’ll be back next year,” Reg told me, “to try to reduce the time it takes. Sandy and I have to fine-tune our tossing technique over the next year.”

At this point, John Ward wandered across to join us.

“It’s been an interesting afternoon,” he said.

(There are video news clips – with me briefly at the very end – on the ITN site here, the International Business Times TV site here and I actually get to speak in the middle of the report on the Chinese 7M Sports website here)

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Filed under Comedy, Humor, Humour, Sport