Say Cheese

Say Cheese

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There are somethings that I really like about the English. There are plenty that I don’t and that is why I left. However, of all the really great things about Great Britain, it is the English eccentric that makes me the most proud. Eccentrics make life fun, they make us look at ourselves and think, if only there was a bit of him or her in my make-up. We have had some great English eccentrics over the years and they should be encouraged and celebrated. So when the courts, the police and Health and Safety threaten their very existence, it is time for the mundane, the boring and the placid to rise up, if it’s all right with the rest of you.

Every year in the village of Brockworth in Gloucestershire, there is an event that is as English as roast beef itself. Thousands of people from all over England, Britain and indeed the world gather to watch or take part in the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake. They get a full wheel of double Gloucester Cheese weighing 8 pounds and roll it down the steep gradient of Cooper’s Hill. It really is steep, it has a gradient of 1 in 1, that’s 45º. Hundreds of people chase after it and go down the hill with such speed that the crowd gathered at the bottom have to act as catchers otherwise the participants would still be running when they reached the town of Cheltenham 5 miles away.

People fall, twist knees and break bones, but still the numbers increase. International competitors take part these days, as eccentrics from other countries rush to the real home of eccentricity. Fancy dress costumes and a whole lot of local beer are the order of the day. Thousands turn up to watch.

Then in 2009, those nice people from Westminster and the men in black from the Gloucestershire Constabulary decided it had to stop. It was you see, unsafe. Of course it’s bloody unsafe! That is the whole point. The great British bulldog spirit then ensued and people simply refused to stop. The races in 2010, 2011 and 2012, went on “unofficially”. What the hell was different from an “official” race, I couldn’t tell you. So the police changed tack. They approached a nice lady by the name of Diana Smart. Diana makes the cheeses used in the races each year. Obviously this threat to national security and the livelihood of us all had to be stopped. They told her that if she persisted she would be arrested as a race organiser and would feel the full weight of British justice. It’s enough to make your milk curdle!

So Diana, had to stop. This lovely little festival was just one last straw for a British Government who simply cannot stand the thought of ordinary people enjoying themselves. The real organisers, who have to remain anonymous, decided that they had to find a way round it. They met in secret, as the French resistance did, 70 years ago, to find a solution. Their answer was to make the cheeses out of foam. The police were duly informed that these new safer, light weight, health and safety friendly, foam cheeses would be used in this year’s race.

The 2013 event went ahead as planned. The weekend was an enormous success with even more people attending because they see this devious and subversive event is now under threat. It is good to know that while terrorists walk around with importunity, blowing up buildings, planes and people willy nilly, we can sleep safe in our beds because the cheese police are doing their job. The dairy product division of MI 6 are on the look out for dubious cheesemongers and when they find them they whey in (sorry) with all the power that they possess.

So please, dear British Government, stop this ridiculous nonsense of meddling with people’s fun. You will not win. English people will fight you all the way on this. It is at the heart of their Englishness. It is up there with Yorkshire pudding, HP sauce and the very flag of St. George itself.

This year the first race was won by an American. Bastard!

Following a highly successful 25-year career as a singer/songwriter and musician, Keith pulled out of the rat race and moved to Southeast Asia in 2008. First living in Thailand, he moved to Cambodia and then relocated to Ho Chi Minh City in early 2013. He started the Saigon Districts website, turning it into the fastest growing site in Vietnam. After careful consideration, he decided to cover not just Vietnam but the whole region that he loves so dearly. Keith has had work published in magazines and websites in the UK, Europe, USA, Australia and Asia. He has written for the BBC and has appeared on TV and radio in many different countries. His great loves are music and travel, but he writes on a whole range of subjects. is a labour of love as Keith travels round the region garnering subject matter. Read more about the website here.


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