Sports the Olympics Forgot – Beagle Chasing, UK

On Easter Monday in Atherstone in Warwickshire an unusual sports event takes place that attracts hundreds of competitors. It’s the annual Beagle Chasing extravaganza,which dates from the restoration of Charles II in 1660.

The chasing takes place over a number of distances and comprises individual and team events. There are no separate races for men and women and no age-group categories. The main reason for this is that all contestants wear a hare costume and must carry a vegetable in their hand during the race, in deference to the diet of the hare. The beagles chase after an artificial scent laid by a dragsman, who wears a fox’s costume.

The scent is made from animal droppings or human urine, aniseed, and fixative. The dragsman pulls it along in a bag to create a cross-country trail. The oldest event is the Replace the Collar contest where individual hares chase a beagle across country, replace its collar, and return to the start all without dropping their vegetable on the ground. Each hare chases a different beagle and the dog is always given a five-minute start over the hare. The beagles are allocated to the hares by means of a lottery as are the vegetables that are carried. These must never touch the ground or be placed in the hare’s mouth, but they can be thrown into the air should the hare have difficulty in removing the collar and require both hands for the task. Indeed, the best collar removing hare of the 19th century was Simon Reynolds, who was a professional juggler and so could accurately throw carrots and lettuces high into the air for a good ten seconds. The vegetable can also be balanced on the nose or on top of the head if the hare  so chooses.

40 Humourous British Traditions – Cat Chasing

This is an extract from my book 40 Humourous British Traditions

Barton-in-the-Beans is a village in the county of Leicestershire in the heart of England. In the Middle Ages it was believed that there were more cats in the village than in any other village or town in the country. This could only mean one thing in those times: witches. Lots of them.

There was no lake near the village. The local chalk soil drained easily so even after heavy rain no large puddles formed. Thus deprived of his best known method of determining who was a witch, the local Witchfinder-General Roger Boydell hit upon a novel method for searching out the local witches.

He determined that witches are very attached to their cats; at the equinoxes and the solstices he told his henchmen to round up all the village cats and place them into a large pen. At his signal, a man would allow three of the creatures to escape from the pen. These cats would be chased by the Witchfinder-General’s fitter cronies around the village. If any woman chased after the man chasing her cat, especially on a broomstick, she was determined to be a witch and sent off to Leicester for burning on the High Cross.

This tradition lasted for 400 years, comfortably outlasting the role of Witchfinder-General by over 300 years. In the mid-20th Century, as people became aware of diets and exercise, it was noticed that the cats of Barton-in-the-Beans were the leanest, fittest, and most athletic cats in the whole county.

This is an extract from my book 40 Humourous British Traditions

Review of Sports the Olympics Forgot from www.goodreads.com

The following is a review from my book Sports the Olympics Forgot, which can be found on Amazon here

Mr. Worker clearly had an enjoyable time researching and writing this book. I wasn’t sure what to think of the book until I got to the bit about Docky and started to really chuckle. The Anti-Pope Games also left a distinct impression in my memory. While there may only be a niche market for this book, if you’ve ever wondered about the sport of Mongol Vegetable Cutting, the Andalusia Hopping Race or Bull Pulling, look no further than this definitive work.

Book Quizzes – Can you judge the books from the covers?

Some classic books:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/quiz/2014/may/22/fiction-classics-cover-design-quiz

crime novels

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/quiz/2014/jun/17/quiz-identify-crime-novels-books-by-covers-jackets

science fiction

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/quiz/2014/may/30/science-fiction-book-covers-sci-fi-quiz

comic books

http://www.theguardian.com/books/quiz/2014/jul/17/quiz-can-you-identify-comics-by-their-covers

Free Book

If you are a member of goodreads (www.goodreads.com) log in to the website. You can apply to receive one of six copies of my book Sports the Olympics Forgot. If you are selected, I will send you a signed copy of the book within a month. The offer ends on June 16th.

Free Books – Sports the Olympics Forgot

If you are a member of goodreads (www.goodreads.com) log in to the website. You can apply to receive one of six copies of my book Sports the Olympics Forgot. If you are selected, I will send you a signed copy of the book within a month. The offer ends on June 16th.