Blessed are the cheesemakers

Share

Imagine the scene. You are lying upside down at the bottom of a 70°-angle hill, covered in mud and grass, having careered down the slope after an 8lb cheese, crashing into others on your way down. The studs of someone else's rugby boot are still pressing into your thigh. You have hurt your arm – possibly a fracture, although it might be just a sprain. What do you do next? Do you scramble to your feet and limp to the nearest pub for a few pints of real ale to numb the pain, congratulating yourself on completing such a daredevil feat? Or do you get straight on the phone to your solicitors and demand a letter threatening legal action be sent to 86-year-old Diana Smart, the dairy farmer who made the gigantic wheel of Double Gloucester, for luring you down the hill with her tempting produce?

Gloucestershire Police seem to think that participants of the centuries-old cheese rolling event at Cooper's Hill tomorrow will go for the latter option – so much so that they dispatched three officers to hunt down this octogenarian evil mastermind to her lair, sorry, cottage, to ban her giant cheese from the race on health-and-safety grounds. The race has been unofficial since 2009 and as such is not covered by insurance – something which has caused the police to go into a meltdown quicker than a chunk of Gruyère in a fondue. A police spokesman said: "We feel it is important that those who, by law, could be constituted as organisers of the event are aware of the responsibilities that come with it so that they can make an informed decision about their participation."

What nonsense. Apart from the fact that Mrs Smart has been making cheese for the event for the past 25 years and so presumably has already made an "informed decision" about her participation, the idea that anyone would actually have a leg to stand on, if you like, to mount a legal case is ridiculous.

"Yes, your honour, I thought I was just going for a gentle stroll and didn't notice the 500ft drop. But I was clearly misled by this enormous cheese and the wicked pensioner who made it, even though she lives miles away and was nowhere near the scene on the day, may as well have dragged me down the hill herself."

"Running the cheese", as it is known to locals, is a key, if a little bonkers, tradition in our country's history. We love it because cheese itself is there to be laughed at, affectionately. The European Union can descend into crisis over halloumi or Brie, and we find it hilarious. Cheese is at the same time banal and significant, like a Sally Bercow tweet. The French, with their unpasteurised stinky Camembert, are mocked for their obsession with it – see "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" over their refusal to join in the Iraq war – but we British are equally defensive about our fermented curds. And if you want to tumble down a hill after a Double Gloucester, it's no one's fault but your own. Gloucestershire Police should remember that blessed are the cheesemakers, as someone said in Monty Python's Life of Brian, and leave Mrs Smart alone.

twitter.com/@janemerrick23

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operations & Logistics Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's best performing...

Recruitment Genius: GeoDatabase Specialist - Hazard Modelling

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our award-winning client is one...

Recruitment Genius: Compressed Air Pipework Installation Engineer

£15000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Atlas ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Pallet Network

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Opportunity to join established...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Political Editor: With 100 days still to go how will Cameron, Miliband and Co. keep us all engaged?

Andrew Grice
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea