I've seen two gloriously ridiculous versions of football this week – both, in my opinion far more entertaining than the real thing. The first was on a repeat of "Rory and Paddy's Big Unbelievable Blag Around Britain" (something like that) in which the two presenters played something called swamp football. This involved them trying to play ordinary football on a foul and muddy bog pitch that looked like the aftermath of Glastonbury. It was almost impossible to move about and you seemed to be limited to one kick if you were lucky before you fell over. Within minutes the team colours became indistinguishable and people started to just pile in on each other with legs and arms flailing. It was the perfect sport should you get aroused by overweight men wrestling in mud while wearing shorts...
Should you however be more of a water-sports enthusiast then you should have been in Bourton-on-the-Water last bank holiday Monday. Bourton is very beautiful and not too far from where I live. Unfortunately it's a little too over-populated with tourists and related shops for my liking but I do pop in once in a while. I first went there when I was a little kid to visit Birdland and the Model Village. This year however, was my first visit to a hundred-year-old tradition in the town – the Bourton-on-the-Water Football Match (catchy title). The River Windrush flows through the town and is only knee-deep so this tradition of a football match held in the river has developed. Every bank holiday Monday two teams of six-a-side battle it out in the river and things get very wet.
Hundreds of people cram the banks to see this curious match and get a little drunk while watching people splash about and occasionally score a goal. Gloucestershire seems to be particularly keen on these kind of events. We are also the county that hosts the annual cheese-rolling that sees drunken Kiwis and locals hurl themselves down a very steep hill in pursuit of a rolling cheese. Show me any crazy sporting event and you'll always find a couple of Kamikaze Kiwis having a go. It's like cricket – whoever is playing you'll always find a group of drunken Aussies hurling abuse at everyone else. I wonder if they put this down as the reason for their visit on visa applications?
The Bourton Football did not produce the kind of injuries that the cheese-rolling does but it occasionally got quite heated. I got waylaid by a very drunk local spectator. He recognised me and felt the need to commentate all the way through. "Raaaiiigt thaart gee haas the ball and hees karcking it tawars the arther gall, now, what a splarrsher..." I didn't understand a word he said but he seemed very friendly and had spare cider so all was good in the hood.
It's probably a country thing – the need to entertain yourself because of the lack of much else to do. I got an anonymous letter through my door last week requesting my presence on a cow-tipping expedition. I think the writer had read my piece on urban croquet and figured that I'd be up for a rural alternative? I actually went cow-tipping once – it was in Devon and I was young and very drunk (I think that you have to be really). Anyway, we decided to go cow-tipping but, after stumbling around fields for ages we couldn't find any cows. We ended up with our one sober friend driving a car round the place with us all on the roof looking over hedges shouting "cows, cows" whenever we thought we spotted some. We never found any so I never got to actually tip. The idea, as I understand it, is to approach the cow after it has fallen asleep while standing up. You're supposed to be able to just give it a push and it tips over very easily. Even writing this I realise that it's a dumb thing to do but it did once, through an alcoholic haze, have a certain appeal.
I decided therefore, to decline the kind invitation but had no idea who to decline to – so I just didn't turn up. I'm hoping whoever invited me is a reader and can read my explanation for the no-show. I'm available for any other sort of alternative country "sport" if anybody wants to invite me. Sorry, but I'm not into gassing badgers or burning down holiday homes – apart from that I'm up for anything.
Time to put the samba into self-defence lessons
I'm thinking of taking up a martial art – I want to be able to defend myself in my old age. I'm quite tempted by the Brazilian one – Capoeira. Perfect excuse to visit Brazil and study some "form" up close.Reuse content