Yesterday I saw a photograph in the paper of a 14 year old girl in a grubby T-shirt and bedraggled hair proudly holding aloft a double Gloucester having been crowned the women's winner of the annual cheese rolling competition. This national treasure is just one of many traditions maintained in various parts of the British Isles which all the locals of the area hold dear and treat with great respect and reverence while the rest of the world, including most of the rest of the country, look on baffled. What amused me more, however, was that the caption on the picture explained how this fine tradition had been banned last year due to health and safety fears by the powers-that-be but had been organised this year by a group of rebels who decided defy the authorities. I imagined small groups of people furtively shuffling along, always glancing behind to see if they were being followed, to a pre-arranged clandestine hill (if that is not a contradiction) where look-outs were posted every 10 meters to check for spies and die-hard participants were sworn to secrecy before the counterfeit dairy product could be revealed to the gasps of the expectant throng. All this to protect the great symbol of British freedom that is the right to run, tumble or somersault downhill after a lump of coagulated milk fats. I noticed that both the girl I have already mentioned and the man who won all three of the men's races appeared to be missing the same front tooth - a warning to others foolhardy enough to consider participating in such a cruel and bloodthirsty pursuit.
Or maybe it just took place on the usual day at the usual place with police and ambulances in attendance, as usual, and everyone had jolly good fun while the rest of the world, including most of the rest of the country, looked on baffled.