Another Triumphant Chap Olympiad
Published on July 17th, 2016
Despite unfathomable weather conditions, malfunctioning trouser presses and a nation in political and emotional turmoil, the 12th Chap Olympiad made its mark on the fields of Bloomsbury on Saturday 16th July.
An unexpected heatwave seared through the capital, bringing with it, in equal measure, a burst of enthusiasm to test one’s mettle in Umbrella Jousting, Tea Pursuit and Bounder Hunt, as well as sartorial indecision. Would tweed invoke unnecessary perspiration, disquieting judges who are alert for any signs of athletic effort, or indeed any effort at all? Would linen clash with other linens? Would the dreaded short trousers have to be considered?
Luckily, all the participants took wise sartorial choices, and Bedford Square Gardens was awash with yet another display of period elegance, with outfits ranging from 18th century dandies to 1950s rockabilly ladies, and all points in between fully covered by an explosion of bright colour and quality fabrics, all illuminated by a fierce and unforgiving sun.
The highlight of the day was a real wedding between Mark and Lisa Glass, who tied the knot in the interval among strewn rubber masks of stags, chickens and Donald Trump, whose wig had been unceremoniously lifted by tossed luxury chocolates during Toupee Trumps. Entertainment was provided by Natty Bo and his Flames of Rhythm, who livened up a slightly wilting crowd with their syncopated 1930s Harlem swing.
The Chap Olympiad — A Very British Day Out
And the meek shall inherit the earth…..
Writer & Editor on The Holborn Magazine, Associate Editor The Chap Magazine, also Sabotage Times & Ungagged Podcast
British summertime throws up many an oddity, and even the occasional lick of sun, yet perhaps none can match the Chap Olympiad for singular eccentricity. For those whom youth dealt a daily diet of sporting humiliation; the individual’s whose unwelcome presence on any team would give rise to roars of lamentation, and a three goal start, then perhaps their hour has come at last. Because this is a day on which their athletic inability is viewed as a strength. For The Chap Olympiad positively thrives on the men and women whose disorganized limbs, and quiet character’s, once elevated them to school yard pariah. Truly a day for Britain’s most unsporting sportsmen, and women, to promenade their stuff.
The Human Pyramid at The Chap Olympiad
Now in it’s 12th year, and set in the Bloomsbury heartland of Bedford Square, the Olympiad is the ‘sporting’ offspring of The Chap Magazine — the bi-monthly bible of those who prefer to view the 21st century through the monocle of a gentler age. And whilst it has been viewed as a shrunken version of classic British Establishment events such as Henley and Ascot, or playing up to the worst of Empire attitudes — this couldn’t be further from the mark. Or the Establishment. It is a day defined more by its affinity to the buffoonery of Monty Python, Spike Milligan, or the Ripping Yarns series, than any Victorian outlook. The tongue is very firmly in the cheek. With those in attendance coming from all walks of life, and dressing according to interest and inclination — for some an Edwardian look is a lifestyle choice, for others it’s just for the day.
Tea Pursuit at The Chap Olympiad
To a great extent The Olympiad encompasses the twin peaks of British humour — silliness and dressing up. The games are officially opened with a ceremonial lighting of the Olympic Pipe, by Gustav Temple editor of The Chap, and the events are open to all. With competitors simply entering themselves into whichever categories match their (in)abilities, on arrival. And what uniquely British ‘sporting’ events they are — from the Tug of Hair, involving 2 opposing teams and a 30ft handlebar moustache, to Umbrella Jousting on Bikes, and Not-Tennis, where points are scored in direct correlation to the degree to which the ‘player’ doesn’t play tennis. No mean feet, when a contender can find themselves 15 — Love down for merely glancing at the ball. And all of this is carried out against a sartorial backdrop that might see a gent sporting a dinner suit with leg armour, or couples in the tiger skin leotards of the Victorian strongman. There is little in the way of a dress code, more of a dress attitude.
Ladies at The Chap Olympiad
At a time when large scale, homogenous, events such as Leeds, Reading or Glastonbury hog the limelight, and the crowds, it is nice to uncover a pocket of British eccentricity, only a pebble toss from dreariness of Tottenham Court Road, that adds a dash of colour to the English summer. After all, how often will you find your flaccid form, and playing field ineptitude, trumping the raw boned muscularity of the everyday sporting idol. So, what are you waiting for, crack out braces, wax your moustache, and “Play up! Play up! And play the game!”