Readers with a long memory might recall my thrilling adventures at the Chap Olympiad last year. Obviously, as I'd declared myself the winner of the Scoundrels Challenge last year I had to attend this year as I had a title to defend and so on Saturday I dressed myself up to the nines and headed off.
For those of you who don't know what the Chap Olympics is, The Chap is a periodical whose editorial stance is "What would an eccentric English Gent make of the modern world?", and their Olympiad is an annual event devoted to dressing well, drinking, and taking part in exciting sporting events like the Moustache tug-of-war, Umbrella Jousting and the Martini Relay.
I think, over the course of the day, I learned three important lessons.
1) If you want to get photographed by tourists in London, all you have to do is dress smartly, pop a hat on at a rakish angle, and hold a singsong around the Play me I'm yours piano in Soho Square.
2) If you are dressed up, London beggars simply won't believe you when you when you say that you have no cash at all - even if this is entirely true - and become abusive as a result.
3) If I enter the Scoundrels Challenge next year, I'm wearing a gumshield.
I made my way to Bedford Square gardens with robinbloke as my valet, Langridge. This proved to be an exceptionally successful move, as I didn't have to carry my own bags, hold my umbrella or queue for food or drinks all day. As a quality of life enhancer, I heartily recommend engaging a man to do all that sort of thing. Valets - everyone should have one.
Anyway, arriving at the gardens we discovered that taking your own booze onto the site was prohibited (They had a drinks stand in the gardens) and they were searching bags on the way in; however, I must have an honest face as they didn't check mine and so I ambled in with a few bottles of decent plonk and a hipflask, which helped the afternoon swim by in a most agreeable fashion with delightful company.
I'd arrived fashionably late, which meant that most of the events were already fully subscribed (which I thought a little bit off, as many of the people taking part in the events were the organisers themselves. Poor show all round), but I registered as a competitor and hoped for the best. Alas, I missed out on the Hop, Skip and G&T and the Plate of cucumber sandwiches discus but, reasoning that I wasn't there to play fair, I elbowed my way to the front of the queue for the three legged trouser limbo. This event involved two people wearing an oversized pair of three-legged trousers between them and walking a short course before limbo-ing under a pole. Naturally, I couldn't allow Langridge to share a pair of trousers with me and so I popped them on and he carried his half. I ambled the length of the course, saluting gents with my brolly and tipping my hat to the ladies, and when we got to the limbo pole Langridge kindly raised it to a height sufficient for me to continue unimpeded. Unfortunately, this, for reasons which escaped me, was not sufficient for me to win the event. I consider myself cheated.
And so the highlight of the afternoon drew near. The Scoundrels Challenge. One of the toughest sporting events known to man, the Scoundrels Challenge was entered as a display sport in the 1996 Altlanta Olympics but was withdrawn after seventeen deaths in the first round. The event involves walking up to a lady and acting in as caddish a manner possible until driven away by a ringing slap. The winner is the man with the reddest cheek but the wryest smile. I've spent pretty much my entire life in training for this event.
Langridge and I took to the course.
"I say, Langridge", I said, indicating a nearby beauty. "Acquire me this lady, would you, there's a good fellow."
Langridge made an enquiry as to the lady's hourly rates.
"More than you could afford!" She replied.
"Don't be so sure", I replied with an encouraging leer. "I have three, perhaps as many as four shillings in my wallet?"
The lady gave an outraged squawk and then...well, if I'm being honest I'm not entirely sure what happened next. Whatever it was, though, it left a ringing in my ears and a taste of blood in my mouth. As colonel_maxim observed more then fifteen minutes later, "Good heavens; you can still see the marks her fingers left in your neck".
Needless to say, I sacked Langridge on the spot.
So it was that I retired hurt from the event. It's difficult - nay, impossible - to maintain a wry smile whilst attempting to straighten your nose, and so I couldn't complete the competition. So I lost my title - but, seeing as I only got it by cheating and villainy in the first place, I really can't complain too much.
Anyway, plenty more pictures from the event can be found here.