Darwin may be the bogeyman of myopic Midwesterners but at least here he stays in the classroom. Back in Blighty – this means England – survival of the fittest is yet to make the evolutionary leap away from the primeval playing field.
A curious American acquaintance ventured to ask of us what in the hell we did with our weekends, if we weren’t having that one hot minute of bedroom bliss. Forced onto the defensive, we enquired as to what was done for kicks over here, apart from eating. To which his retort was “I dunno man, like sports and shit.” A silence descended on Java Jones, the mere mention of sporting activity instantly striking fear into the very soul of our being. How could our companion have realized that sport back in Britain had evolved on a subtly different, yet terrifying tangent. Few are aware that gym is actually derived from the Old English “Gymacology,” the ancient practice of throwing fat children into treacle and seeing if they can eat their way out. Fortunately the great sugar famine of 1742 put a stop to this cruel – but delicious – practice. It should be noted that this was not needless cruelty, for those who did not survive were packaged up and sold at confectioners around the empire; in fact, these were the precursors to the popular gummy bear. Sadly, this was the only sweet bi-product of England’s bloody sporting heritage.
Perhaps our most infamous recreation is the gentlemanly pursuit of fox hunting. Many groups have sought to ban this painful pastime, but thanks to the intervention of the former members of Pink Floyd and the political pressure group NATO (Not Attractive To Others), it has not only survived, but flourished. Fox hunting involves the release of a lovely young lady – the fox – into the wild, whereupon she is mercilessly hounded by a pack of dawgs. Supporters say that keeping the foxy population in check is essential to the local ecosystem i.e., keeping the cock(erel) safe for even the most foul-featured farmer’s daughter.
Due to England’s temperate climate, the government is unable to rely purely on the weather to wash away the poorer part of the population. Fortunately we Brits have the time-honoured tradition of peasant shooting up our Burberry sleeves. Every midsummer, members of the lower classes are lured into the green and pleasant land with the promise of pies and ale. Then people resembling the nasty man in Titanic try and cap as many as they can before afternoon tea is served.
America’s cultural hegemony has necessitated a British alternative to the popular phenomenon of pro wrestling. In the late ’80s a new spin was put on the Tudor pastime of bear baiting. Now every Thursday night, under London Bridge, huge crowds gather to watch bare-naked athletes battle it out in KY Jelly to the death. Due to several high-profile incidents, the public may not pet the bares, as they’re lubed and dangerous.
Rugby, a.k.a. psycho AFL, plays a vital role in the fabric of British society providing the young male with the only human contact he’s likely to have before marriage – not counting fumbled encounters in public toilets. Unfortunately for those not in possession of a castle, rugby is an elitist sport; and those too proletarian for ‘Rugger’ also tend to miss out on the joys of polo, tiddlywinkies and gelching. Thus the government introduced soccer hooliganism. No longer was Saturday afternoon devoted solely to cucumber sandwiches and intravenous drug use, now beered up Brits could partake in a host of pleasure/pain antics like eye-gouging. Hooliganism is fast becoming our most popular European export, and we intend to implement it in the Thunderdome sometime this quarter. So come and have a go if you think your hard enough – broken bottles and bricks optional.
Sam Solnick and Kate Wills are junior EAP students focusing on English.