Friday, October 26, 2007

Quirky Couple's Queer Quest

Quirky Couple's Queer Quest
For years, we've been intrigued by bizarre pastimes such as worm charming and egg throwing, and have written about those and other world championships held every year in remote parts of the world.

Now, to our delight, we've found two kindred spirits -- a Welsh couple who take part in as many world championships as they can, if the events are held in the UK. And let's face it, the Brits have long had a reputation for such offbeat activities.We first heard about the couple when we read an interesting story by Katie Norman in the South Wales Echo. Here's how it began:

"Emma Hagerty, 27, and her boyfriend, Mark Rye, 28, have made it their mission to enter as many unusual world championships as possible.The couple, of Whitchurch Road, Gabalfa, Cardiff, entered 30 weird and wonderful international standard events last year.

"As well as competing in many crazy golf competitions, they have entered a conker tournament, a dry foam throwing contest and a tin bath race -- all at world championship level."

We emailed Mark Rye for more details of their strange pursuit of world titles. He replied:

"i am guessing you know what we have been doing over the last year and a bit, but here is a summary. me, the girlfriend and my mate tom spent last year travelling the length of the UK entering as many world championhships as we couldthis led us to northern ireland, scotland, wales, england and even the isle of man. at the end of the year we had entered 30 world championships.

"however i have not been able to leave it at that, so it is now my hobby entering world championships.drop me a line back with anything you want to know, as if it is a world championships in the uk i probably know about it."

Of course we were eager for more, so we asked Mark if he had managed to win any world titles. He told us:

"i did manage to become the dry foam throwing world champion and world record holder, also i defend my title this year.i don't know if i said before but there were 3 of us travelling around last year me, emma and my childhood mate tom.

"we have entered both the conkers and the worm charming. although it does have to be said that our worm charming skills do need to be work on, as we only managed 5 worms in our half hour. tom did manage to go one further and get 6 of them out of the ground.

"as for the most fun, it is hard to say. but dock leaf pudding cooking is up there. there are a few pictures of the event here: [photo 11 is me]in this event you have to cook a dock leaf pudding 'live' on stage while the local brass band plays, i think the word surreal was invented to describe this."

Searching the Internet, we discovered that Emma-Jayne Hagerty, 27, is a health worker and her partner, Mark Rye, 28, an administrator.

A World Circular Chess Championship Web site reported: "Organisers welcomed four new entrants from Cardiff and Edinburgh, Ian Lewis, Mark Rye, Tom Maxwell and Emma-Jayne Hagerty, who have embarked on a mission to enter a series of world championship events staged across the country, including cheese-rolling, wellington-boot throwing, worm-charming and pooh-sticks."

Pooh sticks aren't what you might imagine. The annual championship, held in Oxfordshire, is "based on A.A. Milne's tales about Winnie the Pooh and friends," according to a 2003 BBC report.

We were gratified to read that "In keeping with recent sporting events, the Australians beat the English to first place in the team competition."

Friday, October 12, 2007

Life Begins at 80: the blog

Life Begins at 80: the blog
Casting the Net from Au to Za

Australia's Olive Riley is a 21st century centenarian Cinderella. In less than a year she has rocketed from relative obscurity to global internet fame.She is probably the oldest of the world's 108 milllion bloggers.
Dubbed "the world's favorite grandma," Olive will celebrate her 108th birthday on October 20. Birthday greetings from many parts of the world have already been posted on her captivating Web site.
Staff at her aged care hostel in Woy Woy, 50 miles north of Sydney, are arranging a party in her honor. Her friend and helper, film maker Mike Rubbo, hopes to recruit a group of eight-year-old children (a century younger than Olive) to serenade her.
By an uncanny coincidence, in Redwood, California, the Historical Glass Museum Foundation will present their second "Magic Show and Dinner" on Olive's birthday, although they probably have never heard of her.
Where will it be held? At CINDERELLA House, 324 W. OLIVE Avenue! Will they sip champagne from Cinderella's glass slipper?
In Auckland, New Zealand, Emma Forbes, a 10-year-old ballet student, is playing a young Cinderella in five performances by the touring Royal New Zealand Ballet.
She told Eloise Gibson, of the New Zealand Herald, that her dance teacher had chosen her for the part because she was the right height for the costume. That probably included the shoes.
Over in the U.K., producers of a Christmas pantomime in Grimsby, Lincolnshire, searched the town for an aspiring actress with a foot that fitted perfectly into their glass slipper, in the same way that the prince searched for Cinderella in the world's favorite nursery tale."
A horse-drawn carriage, a glass slipper, a fresh-faced bellboy covered in buttons... the only thing missing is Cinderella!" reported the Grimsby Telegraph.
"As the search for the belle of the ball continues, Buttons ... scoured the streets of Grimsby for the lady whose dainty foot must be a perfect fit for the glass slipper during the official launch of this year's Grimsby Auditorium panto."
They finally chose a 15-year-old schoolgirl, Zoe Belding, who will play the leading role when the panto opens on Dec. 7. And would you believe this? One of Cinderella's "ugly sisters" in the New Zealand production is named Zoe Bedford. Another weird coincidence.
Hold on!. It's not certain that there ever WAS a glass slipper. Some historians think that Cinderella's slipper was originally made of fur, which would have been more comfortable but less glamorous.
They believe that long ago, when a linguist translated the story, he mistakenly wrote the French word for glass (verre) instead of that for fur (vair)
"This theory has been widely discredited now and most scholars believe he intended glass slippers all along," Karen Price reassures us, in an interesting story in Britain's Western Mail.
"The earliest version of the Cinderella story is said to be from China, where a small foot was a sign of great beauty in a woman," Karen writes. "From those humble beginnings she has gained worldwide status: in France she is Cendrillon, in Italy Cenerentola, Germany Aschenbrodel, and Russia Zolushka."
...And in the blogosphere, she's Olive Riley. Happy birthday, Ollie!
This story has been published by the South Korean citizen reporters' journal OhmyNewsInternational: