To highlight the excellence of us Brits, today we’re looking at the grand British annual tradition: Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake. This is also sometimes known as the Running of the Cheese. It’s held every spring bank holiday and is spontaneously managed, but draws in huge crowds as maniacs throw themselves down a steep incline after some cheese. Doesn’t it make you proud to be British?
Held in the small village of Brockworth, Gloucestershire, it’s an event that pushes the realms of ridiculousness. Basically, there’s an incredibly steep hill, some people line up at the top, someone rolls a nine pound Double Gloucester cheese down it, and everyone chases after it in futility.
The idea is not to fall over, of course, but the nature of the hill (and the participants’ collective desire to win) means most people are soon cartwheeling down the thing in agonising fashion. It’s a one-in-three hill, too, making it thrice as dangerous.
All of which is often home to the resounding cheers of “Manchester, na, na, na!” or some other such tribal chant. Why? As… you know, Brits take competition far too seriously. So long as you’re willing to break your neck in pursuit of cheese here in England, you’re celebrated as a folk hero.
It’s all in the name of good fun, naturally, but some of the bone crunching incidents highlight the danger involved in the Running of the Cheese. And whilst confusion may reign for its existence, take solace in the knowledge it heralds from pagan origins. Possibly. What we do know is the first written account of cheese rolling dates to 1826. Gloucester’s town crier was handed a note that year for what to scream at the population.
As for the injury rate, we couldn’t find statistics except for the 1993 event. 15 took one for the cheese that year, with four badly maimed. There’s a St. John Ambulance crew nearby to try and help the shattered individuals that reach the bottom, but on the whole there is no safety in this event – you just put your balance skills to the test and hope for the best.
“But why?” is a common question, particularly from non-Brits. In part, we think this is one of the reasons we excel at comedy as a nation – there’s a certain desire to make fools of ourselves, muck in in the name of tradition, and show you don’t mind a bit of jolly rough and tumble. Of course, this doesn’t excuse the total stupidity of the whole thing.
Anyway, if you want to attend Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake 2019 then you can find all the instructions on that there link. If it doesn’t rain, then you’re set for a beautiful time of it in the English countryside. You could even participate! Head back home with a shattered pelvis to show off to your mates.