CHEESE ROLLING & THE EVOLUTION OF CHEESE
Blogitandscarpa on 24th May 2023
Like, cheese is mental. You milk a cow, or a goat or in some cases, a vegan, then you put bacteria in it and let it grow mould, and then you sell it for stupid amounts of money to people who think they’re better than everyone else. And you put in on pizza, and you have it on nachos, you have fancy cheeseboards with fancy crackers, they make Wotsits with it, and you can’t sleep if you have it before bedtime, and the French go crazy for it, and people write books about it, and boring people bang on about bouquets and acidity, and you think it’s reached its cheesy peak when they put it in a squirty can. And then you visit the West Country in England.
The villagers of Brockworth, Gloucester are on another level when it comes to Cheese Insanity. They take a 9 pound (4 kilogram) wheel of Double Gloucester cheese, put a ribbon round it, take it to the top of a 220 yard long steep hill, roll it off the top, and send a bunch of lunatics after it to try and catch it. Not as a punishment or for any prize money, but for fun. And, if you manage to make it down to the bottom of the hill, alive, before anyone else, you get to keep said wheel of cheese. Yeah, that’s right. Every Spring Bank Holiday, the locals of the village of Brockworth roll a wheel of cheese down a 1:3 gradient hill, and run after it. For a laugh. It has to be said that the village of Brockworth doesn’t have internet and is in the middle of nowhere, so they had to keep coming up with new ideas to entertain themselves. They looked around and all they saw was a pub, a massive hill and cows. So they got drunk, put hill and cow together and created a Death Wish.
This tradition started over 600 years ago, when issues of grazing rights arose. Instead of sitting down and talking things through, they thought it would be a better idea to chase cheese down a hill, thinking that one of them would definitely die, so problem solved. There is also the suggestion that it was a Pagan ritual of rolling food down a hill to welcome in the New Year, and that it was a fertility rite to encourage harvest. They also thought that the world was flat and that bacon goes well with maple syrup, so they weren’t the sharpest tool in the box. Which is probably not a bad thing, as they’d probably cut a finger off. For a giggle.
But whatever the excuse, the fact is that every year, people travel from around the world for the privilege of breaking bones and knocking themselves out. They run 3 races each year, 2 for men and 1 for women, thereby forever putting to bed the argument of who is the cleverer sex.
The cheese reaches speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, so if you don’t manage to die from falling, you could be taken out by a rogue wheel of cheese. Cheesicide they call it. The high-speed cheeses are specially produced for the event by the Churcham Farm, owned by Diana Smart and her son Rod. In 2013, the Smarts were warned by the Superintendent of the local constabulary that they could be held responsible for the injuries caused. The town was fuming. ‘How Dairy’ the local newspaper screamed and everyone laughed on their way to the hospital. ‘They’ll pry my cheese from my cold, dead hands’, said Diana Smart, shortly before she choked to death on some particularly chunky Wensleydale. The cheese wasn’t to blame. ‘Cheese doesn’t kill people’, said one local, who had banged his head many times over the years. ‘Idiots who don’t use cheese responsibly do’. During the pandemic, the event was cancelled for 2 years. No-one got seriously injured. It ain’t rocket science.
If you reckon I’ve just made this stuff up, check out the Netflix documentary on it…..We Are The Champions. It’s brie-lliant.