I gave you the history of the Hallaton Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scrambling last year, so you can click HERE to mug up on the details. I give you instead a series of photographs to give you a taste of the event.
Category Archives: Sport
Last night, quite uncharacteristically, I fell asleep on the sofa. I never fall asleep during the day and sleep like the dead at night, although rarely for long enough. Yesterday had been particularly busy and, after putting The Boys to bed, I settled down to watch an episode of Morse. My Sisters bought me the entire series in a boxed set for Christmas – there is something very wonderful about a boxed set of anything. At about 9.10, I selected an early episode that I hadn’t seen before, took a slurp of tea and promptly fell asleep.
I opened my eyes, wondering sleepily how Morse had managed to solve the murder in a matter of minutes, and realised that it was quarter past ten. Right, I thought radically, I’m going to go to bed. I made a large mug of Ovaltine, and snuggled up with the radio playing softly and continued with Bill Bryson’s ‘Thunderbolt Kid’ (which I was also given for Christmas – I really was a very good girl last year).
At some point during the night, a voice from the radio excitedly announced that England had won The Ashes. I switched off the light and the radio and went back to sleep, feeling very pleased indeed. I like cricket although I don’t follow it closely, but I am always delighted when England wins anything, because the achievements of one’s country should be a source of National Pride, particularly if that success is borne of genuine talent and skill.
Next year, London is going to host the Olympic Games which, in my opinion, is absolutely brilliant. England has a long history of excellence in engineering, construction, organisation and pageantry and I believe it will be a wonderful opportunity to showcase both our talents and our athletes. It will re-generate an area of London which badly needs it and, if managed properly, can be a valuable resource and inspiration for sport for the whole country for a long time to come.
The last time the Olympics were held in England was in 1948, just after WW2, and it was appropriate that it should have been held in the capital city. It would have been nice if one of the other cities had been successful this time, but that’s not how it turned out.
But I am absolutely sick to death of hearing so many people slagging off our involvement in the games and casting aspersions on our ability to host them successfully. There is no earthly reason why we shouldn’t make a success of it and, as we are embarking on a period of necessary austerity, we could take the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world that events of this kind can be carried off with efficiency and panache without bankrupting the country in the process.
There was a time when it was perfectly acceptable to express pride in Britain and the achievements of its inhabitants. I think that it’s very interesting that the inclination towards national criticism coincides with a rise in unpleasant nationalism as expressed by The British National Party and other right wing organisations whose agenda is nothing to be proud of whatsoever.
I am completely in favour of supporting and promoting British interests and businesses and I put my money where my mouth is at every possible opportunity. I am also both conscious and proud that we have historically proved to be an inclusive country where diversity is celebrated more than almost anywhere else on earth.
That is not to say that we shouldn’t have stringent immigration laws – we are a small island and, as I said before, we have to put our own interests first. But throughout history England’s economy has survived because we have recognised the value of migrant workers and the skills and cultural benefits that they bring.
I constantly remind Boy the Elder that his intermittent streams of negative invective about current affairs, and his own current affairs at school, are extremely unattractive and not remotely cool. I suggest that the constant whinging about how awful everything is in Britain is equally unattractive and un-cool and we should get a grip.
I’m not suggesting that we should all be wandering about in a state of starry-eyed, patriotic ecstasy, but I am definitely suggesting that we should take a long hard look at what we’ve actually got and be glad of it. If there are things that need changing, either personally or in the wider world, then we should see what we can do to change those things.
Let’s not turn into a decadent society in which we are disempowered, de-skilled and useless whilst at the same time demanding that someone else should do something about it. We have to be realistic about how the country can function and thrive and that means being realistic about what we’re good at as well.
Well done to the English Cricket Team and here’s to the success of the London Olympics.
At this point the Wartime Housewife considers falling to her knees, sobbing with emotion and warbling the National Anthem, but mercifully pulls back from the brink.
Here is a picture of Princess Elizabeth and some dogs.
Here are some other articles I’ve written about sport:
Well played Germany.
Now I believe that there’s a foopball tournament starting tonight; It’s only the 2nd XII teams and I don’t think they can be terribly important games, otherwise I would have seen supporters merchandise in the shops or heard something about it on the wireless.
Nonetheless, Boy the Younger, who has developed an unhealthy interest in foopball, has insisted that I watch a game with him tonight. I don’t know who’s playing – some ladies from South America and Crecy United I believe. If any of the rest of you wish to watch it, and providing you have a note, I will let you off reading my blog tonight.
If you are NOT watching foopball, here are some foopball facts* :-
- Nearly all boys like to play foopball
- If there are no proper goalposts, one can use tin cans or jumpers
- Boy the Younger plays foopball. I suspect he may not be mine
- King Edward III, King Richard II, King Henry IV and Queen Elizabeth I all passed laws forbidding men to play foopball
- As would I
- Some people call it Soccer, including the Americans
- Players wear knickerbockers which are fastened below the knee. Their long stockings are pulled up over the bottom of their knickerbockers. They also wear gaily coloured jerseys
- There are many quarrels during matches and some players pretend to be injured in order to spend more leisure time enjoying their enormous salaries
- In India, Pakistan and a number of other former colonies some of the players wear no boots. Their feet are so hard and strong that men kick the ball with their bare feet.
- Sometimes, foopball matches are shown on the television so that people who can afford satellite boxes can see the match as well
- Every Saturday everyone in England plays the football pools. The money from the sale of tickets means that the Government doesn’t have to fund community projects.
- The Football Association is now so large it has more than a dozen clubs and the players earn more than a thousand pounds a second
- Some ladies have now taken to playing football because of a regional paucity of embroidery silks
* All information taken from The Wartime Housewife Book of Football 1964
Yesterday, for the very first time, I attended the Hallaton Bottle Kicking.
My God. I have never seen anything like it.
This is what happens. Firstly, there is a parade through the streets, led by a man in mediaeval dress carrying a leaping bronze hare on a stick. A delicious Hare Pie is then processed up to the church where the vicar (a delightful Miniature Vicarette) blesses it and then cuts it up. Chunks of this, and twelve penny loaves are then thrown into the crowd for people to try to catch and eat (the dogs are particularly enthusiastic about this bit). It is rumoured that the pie is now made of beef, but trust me, it’s hare.
The crowd then throngs throught the streets and up to the top of Hare Pie Hill to await the start of what can only be called a tournament. There are three ‘bottles’, which are actually barrels – two filled with beer and one wooden one – the wooden barrel is thrown into the air three times and on the third descent lusty, virile and seemingly suicidal young men from the villages of Medbourne and Hallaton fall upon it and have to wrestle it over the hill into the stream on either the Medbourne or the Hallaton side. The winners get the beer. There are no rules.
It’s a very hard thing to describe. Try to imagine the dirtiest scrum you have ever seen then add fifty more blokes. Then add the entire crowd of spectators who are running with the scrum down a muddy hill with a stream at the bottom. Every so often it stops dead and then surges forward in any direction, the crowd screaming and swearing with delight and fear as it turns in their direction and they all scramble to get out of the way. Now add a pair of paramedics circling the melee, every so often zooming in to retrieve an injured participant, from the unstoppable mass.
This ancient tradition is probably the most powerful fertility rite I have ever witnessed. The majority of the spectators are under thirty. The girls are all tarted up to the nines but sporting wellies. The men are demonstrating their strength and virility. The air is sparkling with adrenalin and testosterone and the only thing missing to differentiate it from a mediaeval melee is the dropping of lace handkerchiefs in front of the chosen champions.
According to the poster, the Bottle Kicking and Hare Pie Scrambling have links that may well date back a thousand years and the custom has certainly been recorded since the 1700’s. All spectators and participants are advised to exercise extreme caution during the actual bottle kicking as serious injuries can result from the contest.
Local lore claims that the custom began when two ladies of Hallaton were saved from a raging bull by a startled hare, distracting the bull from its charge. Assuming that the hare had been sent by God they showed their gratitude by donating money to the church on the understanding that every Easter Monday, the vicar would provide a hare pie, twelve penny loaves, and 2 barrels of beer for the poor of the village. Presumably God also told them to beat eight bells out of each other in order to get it.
I can honestly say it’s one of the most thrilling and visceral things I have ever seen. Here’s to another thousand years.
I was intrigued to hear on Radio 2 at lunchtime today, that an entire section of the programme was devoted to whether or not a football player called Wayne Bridge is going to play for England in the World Cup. Apparently he’s fallen out with his friend and team-mate John Terry, and doesn’t want to play with him any more.
Now the details of this fall-out are undoubtedly a bit sad; Bridge and his missus had broken up and John Terry cruised in like a rooster and did the Lord’s Work with her, although he had allegedly been trying to ‘help the couple sort out their relationship’. A slightly radical form of therapy I’ll admit, and, as always, we only know what we have been fed by the media.
But let’s not be silly about this. With all the injuries in the England team, Wayne Bridge (not one of the country’s best known players) was going to be given the opportunity to Play For England and surely as a professional footballer, this would be his ultimate goal? (note the clever football pun). Is it not somewhat self-destructive to throw that away just because his EX-girlfriend has bumped uglies with his team-mate? And while I’m about it, I wonder if Mrs Woman has had the same amount of flak as Terry?
Bridge needs to get a bit of backbone, put his private life to one side and get on with it. Anyone who has ever gone out with someone in their office, knows that when it all goes horribly wrong, one is going to have to face that person on a daily basis and be a bit grown up about it.
To be fair to Bridge though, it seems to me that almost everyone needs to butch up a bit these days. There is a propensity for people to wallow in their victim status when the slightest thing goes wrong in their lives. Now whether this is because society has become so uncaring that everyone feels vastly undervalued and has to grasp at any opportunity for sympathy or self-esteem, or whether we have all become so cushioned, degenerate and unchallenged that we have lost the ability to show a bit of stoicism, is hard to say. I would hazard a great dollop of the latter and the inevitable knock-on effect of the former.
I always feel so grateful when a news story appears in which someone fails to lament that their life has been ruined because of an incident, or something nasty happens and the victim refuses to blame / sue / demand the public disembowelling of the perpetrator. There are enough nasty things happening every day that involve real victims whose lives are genuinely ruined or snuffed out entirely, that maybe if we stopped staring at our navels and turned our attention outwards for once, we could do something about it.
So pay attention everyone:-
Best foot forward.
Put a brave face on it.
Keep Calm and Carry On (now I think about it, someone should put that on a poster…)