What ho! Last weekend on a typical British midsummer's day (i.e. rain-soaked), hundreds of hardy chaps and chapesses invaded Bedford Square for the 8th Chap Olympiad. With every one of the 1700 tickets sold out and a strict dress code, we found ourselves snuggled among a most moist but boisterous crowd huddled under brollies or gazebos with their waterlogged upper lips stiffer than a Central London parking fine.
Organised by the periodical for discerning gents who want an alternative to modern culture, this year's Olympiad started with the traditional opening formalities. A stirring commencement speech welcomed all and reminded us of the honourable values of the event. The Olympic Pipe was lit and shared amongst the competitors before they were checked for illegal items. One foolish cad was disqualified for bringing with him a healthy salad and a bottle of mineral water.
Spectators were then treated to a series of jolly games which relied on panache, skill and and admirably straight faces. We especially enjoyed the Brolly Joust, Not Tennis (not playing tennis for five minutes), the one where a bowler hat was scooped into a net with a walking stick and the dance challenges.
One of the afternoon highlights for us was the Swooning game whereby the gentleman competitors attempted to make their female companion faint faster than his fellow coves. The winner beat off the competition through his gallant, though not strictly Queensbury Rules, tactic of proposing to his fairer half. That should make for an amusing tale at the next WI meeting.
When the sun eventually showed his face, picnics broke out around the square with sandwiches and Pimms as far as the (occasionally monocled) eye could see. To those who were at the Olympiad and bravely stuck through the rain, we salute you.
Words by Franco Milazzo/Lisa Thomson
All photos (c) Lisa Thomson.