Welcome to Interesting If True, the podcast that will make you the best player of the worst sports. I’m your host this week, Aaron, and with me are:
I’m Steve, and this week I’m wondering how I can simultaneously always want to watch, learn, or do something else before bed, but then never leave bed?
I’m Shea, and this week I learned that goth anti-vaxxers refuse to listen to the Cure.
Ok Shea, this one’s for you.
I’ve finally learned about sports…
Not tried, of course, but I read about them online.
Oh yes, I’ve put on my finest pair of pigeon-cleats and went for a jaunt in marry ol’England to partake of their finest sport…
Of course, if not for the Greeks we wouldn’t have the wonders of Dwile Flocking. It’s… let’s say predecessor… probably, Kottobas was a favorite circa fourth and fifth centuries BC.
To begin one must first tap a new vat of wine and serve to friends and enemies alike. Once the goblets near empty, contestants would assume the sporting position… reclining on there dining table, and deftly flick the remaining wine sediment from their glass at a target.
Apparently success in Kottobas was a precursor to success in affairs of the heart — because those who competes in the wine-games sees only 10s.
The Mid-17th century was a glorious time for animal based sport – and masterbation jokes.
To begin pulling your goose you need some rope to tie it up with and a horse. The goose is hung by its feet from a tree or whatever and contestants take turns riding the horse at a full gallop and try to grab the goose’s head.
The goal, because everything back then was terrible and covered in the blood of the innocent, was to pull the gooses head off. Thereby forever enshrining your position as a master head puller and also, I assume, winning you the goose-head. Also you’re, “crowned” as the “king” for one whole year with a crown and mantle. At the end of his “king” reign, he has to indulge his “subjects” to a feast of beer, cigars and bread pudding or sausages that is held either at his house or the local pub. Kings compete with each other to become the “emperor”.
The event is still practiced today in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Though use of a live goose was banned in the 1920’s. Though purist still argue that half the challenge was the bird flapping about, and a flaccid goose just isn’t as much fun to pull on.
First things first, we’re going to have to get into a gaming mood with a rousing round of Dwile Flonking.
One of the more recent inventions of English sport, Dwile Flonking comes from Norfolk, min-1960… and almost certainly a pub. The rules are simple enough.
You and 24 of your closest friends get together and divide into two even teams — the stupidest person of the group, or as the rules specify a “dull-witted person,” is picked last and becomes the Jobanowl, or referee.
From there players dawn their sporting apparel of a porkpie hat, a collarless shirt, trousers tied at the knee – which you’ll want to keep on for the next event – hobnail boots and a pipe (smoking optional but helpful).
To start the round the jobanowl tosses a sugar beet into the air to decide who goes first, yells “Here y’go t’gither!” and then both teams set out on the task of hitting each other in the face with beer-soaked rags.
The trophy is ultimately awarded to the team least able to keep their balance.
A Stinging Nettle is a plant, the Urtica dioica, is a herbaceous perennial flowering plant. Also it’s covered in giant, asshole-y, spines covered in… I dunno, some kind of poisocain I guess. Anyway, it will cause you the break out in a terrible case of boils and itchy terribleness.
So naturally, The Bottle Inn in Marshwood, Dorset UK, has spent the last 40 years holding the annual Stinging Nettle Eating contest.
Apparently two farmers once argued over who had the longest stinging nettles… because life is terrible. Unsure how to … you know, measure… the nettles they figured the best way to find out whose was best was to eat them. Competitively.
Ferret-legging, or snake-cat juggling as it’s sometimes called… by me… dates back to the prosperous days of… 1970’s coal miners in Yorkshire. Don’t think about it, they didn’t. The game is one of endurance and fortitude and only the most brave will prevail.
To play one first needs pants. Then you use some twine, or a zip tie, or whatever you have handy to cinch your pant-cuffs around your ankles.
Finally, you put two ferrets in your pants.
Did I mention you’re not allowed to wear underwear? Yeah, that’s a rule because drinking.
The exact origins of the sport are hotly disputed by Englishmen, who have yet to discover something they didn’t want to lay claim to, and drunk Scotsmen. According to Marlene Blackburn of the Richmond Ferret Rescue League, which is not so much a league as a group of people trying to stop the ferret-legging-league, says the game originated in pubs. Because fucking of course it did Marlene.
The goal is a simple one: have ferrets in your pants longer than the other guy. Then you win… a bunch of inoculations I guess.
The rules have evolved over time. For example, you’re not allowed to drug the ferrets. Also declawing and tooth filling are specifically disallowed. Finally, you’re not allowed to be drunk. Which… boggles the mind.
The sport is said to involve very little “native skill”, simply an ability to “have your tool bitten and not care”. according to former world champion, Reg Mellor, who is credited with instituting the practice of wearing white trousers in ferret-legging matches, to better display the blood from the wounds caused by the animals.
You are allowed to try to dislodge ferrets which have latched on to your willy but only from outside the pants. So basically, the only play you’ve got is to punch yourself in the crotch and hope you hit the pissed off animal in your pants and not your own dick.
But not’s not just about dicks! No, no, the putting-animals-in-you-pants sport fans are a woke bunch who created ferret-busting for the ladies. The goal here being… to put a ferret down your shirt and hope they don’t eat your boobs. Sadly, like many sports, the ladies league saw declining attendance and was ended shortly after its introduction.
For many years the record stood at 40 seconds. Set in 1972, Donald Katz, known as the King of the Ferret Leggers seemed unbeatable. So amazing was his ability to ignore a ferret eating his dick that his story would be immortalized in print in 1987. The like titled book was pushed by Random House, because they’ll literally print anything.
Unfortunately for Donald, all the dock-knowing was for naught as his record would be unset in 1977 by Edward Simkins from the Isle of Wight. Edward was basically the Michael Jordan of having ferrets in your pants. He shattered the standing record of 90 seconds and established his own mighty record of five hours and ten minutes.
His claim to the title is debated by some though, as he only had one ferret in his pants for the first four hours before adding a second for the final 70 minutes.
While he did sustain a couple of very serious bites, so unbothered was he by the ferrets in his pants that he also competed in arousing game of darts.
Having set the bar almost unbearably high Edward was sure he would remain the king of angry trouser-Mustelidaes.
For now the fire had been lite and challengers abounded. Somehow. Somehow there were people who challenged him.
Retired miner Reg Mellor of Barnsley set his own record of five hours and twenty-six minutes on July 5th of 1981 at the Annual Pennine Show in Holmfirth, Yorkshire. He had practiced since his youth – yeah, since his youth. Basically, he’s the Tiger Woods of having a wild, uncontrollable, trouser snake… oh. Sadly, his career of having ferrets in his pants had gone largely unrecognized until his world record was set. Of the victory he said his many years of hunting ferrets outside Barnsley, where he had grown accustomed to keeping them in his trousers to keep them warm and dry while working in the rain (I guess because “sack” technology had not yet been invented) was vindicated. Mellor’s trick to success was to make sure the ferrets were well fed before he put them in his pants. Because it’s easier to clean ferret shit out of your socks, than your chewed-up manhood out of a ferret.
In 1986, before a gathered audience of 2,500 spectators, Mellor attempted to beat his own record and the “magic six-hour mark — the four-minute mile of ferret legging.”
After five hours most of the attendees had become board and wandered off and workmen began dismantling the stage despite his sparkly-pants objections. Sadly, Mellor was unable to set a new record that day. According to Adrian Tame of the Sunday Herald Sun, Mellor retired after that experience, “disillusioned and broken-hearted,” but with his dignity and manhood intact.
Fear not, the ferret-legging-league is still going strong. The current world record for having pants full of pissed off animals goes to headmaster Christine Farnsworth who beat the six-hour mark in 2010 – and raised nearly 1000pounds for first responders doing it!
Sadly the proud and noble tradition of stuffing animals in your pants seems to be fading. According to a 2005 report published in the English Northern Echo newspaper, whether due to a “lack of brave contestants or complaining wives”, ferret-legging is now “a dying sport” that is being replaced by ferret racing, in which the animals race through a plastic pipe. Having known some ferrets, I’m sure at least they appreciate the sports evolution.
There is still an annual competition held at the Richmond Highland Games & Celtic Festival in Richmond, Virginia. For our northern listeners, there’s also an annual ferrets-in-your-pants competition held in Winnipeg. The event is overseen by, and held to raise money for, the Manitoba Ferret Association. They make sure no ferrets are hurt… or choke on dick-tips I guess.
Ferret-legging indeed made it to the big leagues. During his appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in May 1996, actor Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee) spent much of the interview with Leno talking about ferret-legging, which he identified as “a new Australian Olympics event.”
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The patron story this week is a toss up. A fox-toss up that is.
17th century Germans had fallen hard for Fuchsprellen. Or as it’s more pronounceable-known name, Fox Tossing. Exclusively available on the MDCLXXII-box.
A popular blood-sport in Europe Fox Tossing was exactly what it sounds like. You got yourself a Fox and you tossed it up in the air. There were some equipment, like long swaths of cloth used as slingshots. The motion being more or less what you see when a group of people is using a blanket or parachute to launch a person into the air. It was popular among the aristocracy as a “mixed sport” or one that you could play with your wife.
Fox tossing would take place in an arena, usually either created by setting up a circle of canvas screens in the open or by using the courtyard of a castle or palace.
Two people would stand six to seven-and-a-half metres (20 to 25 feet) apart, holding the ends of a webbed or cord sling known as a Prellgarn or Prelltuch – or it’s friendlier, less animal-murdery name ‘bouncing cloth’ – which was laid flat on the ground.
An animal such as a fox would then be released from a cage or trap and driven through the arena, and the challenge I guess, came as the animal ran across the sling. If you pulled on the ends as hard as you can, at just the right time, you could achieve fox-lift off.
The highest throw would win the contest… as judged by whoever owned the castle I bet. Pretty sure they didn’t have a 7-11 style height stick anyway. Expert competitors could achieve throws of as high as 7.5m (24 ft).
And, like all good games, there was a multi-player mode. If you wanted to get everyone involved all you needed were more slings to lay in parallel so that the animal would have to run the gauntlet of several teams. I could find any info on if you got points for tossing a fox that landed on your sling, but I gotta assume it’s less because a concussed fox isn’t as quick as a terrified one.
And yes, concussions were not the only result. More often than not the animal died… and if it didn’t, the Pope and some dwarfs hit it with sticks.
In Vienna, March 1672, the Swedish envoy Esaias Pufendorf, witnessing a fox-tossing. He noted in his diary his surprise at seeing the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I enthusiastically joining the court dwarfs and boys in clubbing to death the injured animals; he commented that it was remarkable to see the emperor having “small boys and fools as comrades, [which] was to my eyes a little alien from the imperial gravity.” … if only he knew.
It wasn’t all fun and games though… sometimes it was terror. Like all good games there was DLC, like Augustus’s 1648 contest in which 34 boars were driven into the enclosure “to the great delectation of the cavaliers, but to the terror of the noble ladies, among whose hoop-skirts the wild boars committed great havoc, to the endless mirth of the assembled illustrious company.” Apparently, heavy animals that are willing to murder you make for poor sport. Which is also a good reason not to install 3rd party user-mods. They might gore you… or eat you. Apparently, the same patch came with a wolf mode. Wolves are much larger and angrier than your average fox. No notes from that event are available, I assume because everyone was too busy running for their lives to put quill to paper.
I’m Aaron, and I’d like to thank all our listeners, supporters, and my co-hosts.
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Music for this episode was created by Wayne Jones and was used with permission.
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