You may catch sight of an English eccentric on TV from time to time, in an interview explaining about some bizarre hobby they partake in, or waxing lyrical about a lifestyle that many in the mainstream may describe as "odd". As you will know, more often than not, the English eccentric is spotted alone, and rarely in a group. What would a group them be called anyway...a weird of eccentrics? A peculiar?
There is, however, one time of the year when eccentrics from around the country leave their questionable hobbies and lifestyles behind and gather together in London's Bedford Square to take part in the Chap Olympiad, an offbeat sporting extravaganza that includes curious events such as the Tug-of-Hair.
In the Tug-of-Hair, two teams pull on some poor fella's enormous handlebar moustache until, presumably, one team pulls itself to victory, or possibly until the man on whose face the moustache is attached begins screaming for the teams to stop because it's really hurting his head and he doesn't want his cheeks ripped off while he's still got a few good years ahead of him. See? Really eccentric!
Organised by the publishers of Chap magazine (a publication which claims to take "a wry look at the modern world through the steamed-up monocle of a more refined age"), the fun and light-hearted event first took place in 2005 and has since gained quite a following.
There'll be plenty of dapper chaps in attendance at the Chap Olympiad, donning their finest apparel for the event. Vintage tweeds will be in abundance, complemented by monocles, pipes and boaters. Chapettes are, of course, invited to the event to, and indeed, play an integral part in the Great Steeplechase race (see below).
The event begins at midday and guffaws merrily into the late evening. Expect lots of frivolity and ridiculousness, especially as far as the Olympiad events are concerned – here are a few examples of what you can expect:
The Dry Martini Knockout Relay race, where participants have to battle it out to create the perfect dry Martini over a ten-yard course.
The aforementioned Tug-of-Hair competition, which sees two teams pulling on opposite ends of an enormous handlebar moustache.
The Three-legged Limbo race, where two contestants limbo underneath a pole while dressed in a pair of three-legged trousers – possibly made of tweed.
The Pipe Smokers' Relay race – you guessed it: men with pipes, in a race, which is a relay.
- The Cucumber Sandwich Discus event – you get a cucumber sandwich, put it lovingly on a bone china plate before hurling it as far as you can. Points are awarded for innovative throwing techniques rather than distance.
- The Umbrella Jousting event, where chaps fight it out on bicycles, using an umbrella as a lance, and a reinforced edition of the Daily Telegraph as a shield (seriously).
- The Great Steeplechase race, which sees chaps donning horse masks, with chapettes on their back jockeying them over a number of challenging hurdles.
If you didn't manage to get tickets for the Olympics, never mind. The Chap Olympiad looks like it's going to be a whole lot more fun. Tickets cost £15.