Sunday, January 22, 2012

Letters from London #6 (Parts 1&2)

A little piece of silliness I wrote about London "sports" - it really amused me to write it, so I hope you enjoy reading it (I'll post Part 3 tomorrow as it's quite lengthy).

Written somewhere around March/April 2001

I thought I would take this opportunity to talk a bit about London sports.  You may not know this, but London is a hotbed of athletic activity and everyone has to participate, whether they want to or not...

1. Pedestrian Games:

The Scamper - what you do when the traffic lights might change at any moment but you cross the street anyway.  You don't dash, because that would be uncool, but you don't walk, either.  Therefore you scamper like a nervous bunny.  Everyone can and does play this one.

The Dash - what The Scamper turns into when the lights do change while you're in the middle of crossing the street.  When you hear 400 cars shifting into gear, you suddenly become less concerned about looking cool and much more worried about being smeared all over the front of a Jag. Not advisable for children or old people, but okay for everyone else.

The Crunch - can occur during either The Scamper or The Dash.  When two pedestrians are both jaywalking in opposite directions, both intently looking to the side in case of stray homicidal drivers, the occasional full-body Crunch does happen.  Don’t worry about this, you’ll be fine as long as you outweigh your opponent.

2. Umbrella Games:

The Spear - when it’s not actually raining and you carry your long, sturdy umbrella with the point jabbing backwards every time you swing your arms. The object of the game is to see how many unwary people you can gut while pretending not to notice the carnage you're leaving behind you. This one is not for amateurs, and you should really leave it to the native Londoners, who have spent their entire lives practicing.

The Joust - an outdoor game.  Much like the jousts of medieval times, or the automotive game of "chicken", this one involves two people with open umbrellas charging toward one another, neither one deviating from their path until finally someone loses their nerve and moves to one side to avoid an ungodly collision of umbrellas.  Of course, more often than not, the ungodly crash does occur, which is why you should invest in a large, strong umbrella, not the cheesecloth-on-a-coathanger type that I own.  I joust a great deal, being more stubborn than sensible, but since my umbrella is well on its way to being shredded, I am retiring from the sport until I upgrade my equipment.

Eyeball Spearing - ahhh, now we're getting into the blood sports.  This one is a particular favourite with Londoners and it's pretty self-explanatory, really.  The object of the game is to collect the eyeballs of your fellow pedestrians by spearing them on the spokes of your open umbrella.  Anyone can be a Spearer, but trying to avoid becoming a Spearee requires a high degree of skill, so you should really learn to jerk your head around like a spastic snake before venturing out into the rain.  Sure, laugh now, but when you're looking at Big Ben with only one eyeball, don't come crying to me.

Scalping - very similar to Eyeball Spearing, but involves somewhat less skill, as the object of the game here is simply to plough a furrow down the skull of your prey with the aforementioned umbrella spokes.  Some of the more advanced players will actually try to take your scalp right off as a trophy, but this is generally frowned upon as being dreadfully rude.

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