Bitesize Episode 79 - Chasing Cheese: Unraveling the British Tradition

Explore the eccentric world of cheese rolling as Charlie delves into its origins, the adrenaline-fueled race down Gloucestershire's hills, and the peculiar camaraderie that keeps participants coming back for more.
May 10 / Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

Explore the eccentric world of cheese rolling as Charlie delves into its origins, the adrenaline-fueled race down Gloucestershire's hills, and the peculiar camaraderie that keeps participants coming back for more.
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Transcript of Bitesize Ep 79 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome back to another episode of the British English Podcast where I, Charlie, the host of this show, expose you to some British culture and British English to help you better understand the language and British people. Now we're going to attempt to understand a group of people I have personally never understood. Growing up, I heard about these people that would take part in this cultural event every year. But after seeing some videos over the years of what takes place, I just couldn't and right now still can't wrap my head around why these people still choose to do this barbaric behaviour. But hopefully by the end of this episode, we will both be the wiser and will understand the mindset behind these people.

Charlie:
So let's start by pretending we're both in London, and if we venture west for a couple of hours by car on a good run, we could get to the Cotswolds, which is renowned for its picturesque charm, quintessential English countryside and rolling hills. And if we were to explore these rolling hills towards the end of May every year for the last 200 years, minus the duration of the pandemic, you might think you are losing your marbles when looking up a certain hill called Cooper's Hill, because your brain would be telling you that hundreds of people are deliberately throwing themselves down this hill, quite literally, at a breakneck speed. And before fully registering this madness, you might even be hit on the shins by the very item these people are trying to desperately catch, which is a four kilogram wheel of double Gloucestershire cheese. That's right, a four kilogram wheel of double Gloucestershire cheese. A popular cheese in the UK with a smooth and creamy texture and rich, buttery flavour with a hint of nuttiness, I might add.

Charlie:
And while perhaps not as internationally renowned as Cheddar or Stilton, Double Gloucester holds a cherished spot in British cheese tradition, a tradition that has become quite the spectacle as people really do start to run down a hill chasing a wheel of cheese. And this hill is an incredibly steep hill. Not only is it steep, but at closer inspection it is made mostly of huge tufts of grass far from a smoothly traversable one. No, no, no. One more likely to get you twisting your ankle on it. And if you ever ran down a hill, perhaps as a child you most likely learnt very quickly that this leads to you falling head over heels and continuing to tumble and turn all the way down until you're at the very bottom, with at best a sore head and at worst, a broken leg in a hospital bed. Now, you'll be glad to hear that paramedics are on hand to aid any of the unfortunately injured cheese runners who didn't think that sprinting down a steep hill as fast as a wheel of cheese can go would end badly.

Charlie:
But this doesn't quite help me understand why people are doing this. So let's start by learning about why this peculiar event began in the first place, shall we? So some historians believe that the cheese rolling might have its roots in a Pagan festival that celebrated the arrival of spring. In this context, pagan basically means before Christianity, a time before Christianity was popular in England. This is a context based definition of pagan right now. Um so the rolling of the cheese could have symbolised the rolling of the sun. Hmm. Okay, marking the end of winter and the beginning of the growing season. Okay. Yeah, that kind of makes sense.

Charlie:
Um, this interpretation aligns with other wheel like symbols used in pagan rituals across Europe, which often celebrated solar and lunar cycles. Okay, yeah, that kind of makes sense. Um, another theory suggests that the event was originally a fertility rite. Huh. With the rolling cheese symbolising the sowing of seeds, which was thought to help encourage fertility of the land and yield good harvests. Okay. Yeah, I can see that. Um, participants who chased after the cheese might have believed they were bringing good luck and fertility to their own families and crops. See? Yeah, this this makes more sense to me. I can I can start to wrap my head around the logic of actually trying to catch this wheel of cheese in order to yield a good harvest for your village let's say.

Charlie:
Um, like that would be a very heroic action, wouldn't it? And you and you would be respected among your group for even for even trying to catch the wheel, even if you didn't get it. But still, back then, gosh, they wouldn't. I heard recently that, uh, before antibiotics, people would die from the most ridiculous things. Like, uh, one person apparently was gardening and, uh, got pricked by a thorn from a rose bush on their cheek. Just a scratch, basically. And then that got infected. And then that led to his death. So he died from a thorn scratching his cheek. So, I mean, nowadays we have surgeries for all kinds of, um, ligament damage and things like that. But back then, if you buggered up your knee or your ankle or anything or shoulder, you might be suffering with that for the rest of your years. So very heroic, even even more heroic back then, I guess, because, you know, you're putting your neck on the line to provide food and, uh, stability. Right? But fast forward to today. I don't think many people from Gloucester, um, are hoping that someone will catch the wheel of cheese to provide them with a season without famine. Um, I mean, they just need to pop down Aldi, right? If they're struggling to afford anything from Waitrose.

Charlie:
Another reason that is also suggested is that the event was used to determine grazing rights on the common land around Cooper's Hill. What does this mean, I hear you ask? So whoever won the race could have been granted the privilege of grazing their livestock on the land so they could have their cows and sheep grazing, getting, um, a lot of nutrients from this potentially maybe very delicious land of, of of, uh, lovely, luscious grass? Again, um, I kind of get that. It's a more exciting way to fairly assign things, um, compared to, you know, flipping a coin or doing ippa-dippa-dation. Ippa-dippa-dation! Oh, wow. Okay. I've stumbled upon a a cultural thing here. So in the playground, English children often decide who is going to be the person that is seeking in hide and seek, you know that game hide and seek, or the person that is catching people in another playground game called It or Stuck in the mud. Stuck in the mud. This has dawned on me that I need to do a children's playground games episode, don't I? Um, but yeah, quickly. So Ippa-dippa-dation is a little rhyme that is said while everyone stands around in a circle and puts one foot forward, then one random person kneels down and goes around tapping on each shoe per each syllable of the rhyme. Yeah, and the rhyme is 'Ippa-dippa-dation, my operation, how many people at the station!' And then some, the person that that lands that finger lands on says a number at random, say three. Then they continue round, saying 'Whoever lands on number three will surely not be it. One, two, three.' So that person that the person has landed on is now not going to be the seeker in hide and seek. And then you do it again and again and again until there's only one person left. Um, I don't know why I told you that. Um. Oh, yes. To to choo-. It's a more fun way to choose who gets grazing rights by running down a hill to chase some cheese rather than Ippa-dippa-dation.

Charlie:
Yes, because by the time you're adults, who wants to do that or who wants to listen to a podcast explaining that? Not me! So I can see why this may have caught on as a tradition. But again, in this day and age, I don't quite get why they are doing it now. But again, I'm I'm over the hill. Haha. Over the hill. Get it? Um, I accidentally stumbled upon that pun. Um. Yeah, I am, I'm certainly more risk averse than I used to be. I should clarify, I don't think I'm over the hill. I'd say this phrase, which suggests you are now, quote unquote old, is mostly aimed at people who are, I don't know, 40 plus. And it's joked about when people are turning 30. But nowadays, you know, seeing how some celebs in their 60s look more attractive and fitter than most of my friends, I'd say that this phrase is a bit pointless nowadays.

Charlie:
But yeah, that's just my opinion. The the phrase still exists, so you might still hear it. To be over the hill. Okay, so we've learned the potential origins of this crazy tradition of cheese rolling. I personally still don't quite get why people continue to do it. Um, so let's see what the day entails to see if it sounds like a fun event, at least to spectate at, because I can imagine people get praised for doing this crazy leg breaking activity if the spectators enjoy the day. It's like, uh oh yeah, well done for entertaining us while we didn't break our legs. Sorry about yours. So, um, let's, uh, let's start with the arrival and gathering.

Charlie:
So participants and spectators often arrive early in the morning to secure a good spot on the hill. The hill itself is quite steep and offers limited space for safe viewing, so arriving early can be crucial. Yuck. I'm personally not a morning person and honestly despise getting to an event before it starts. Um, like, I went to Glastonbury last year and in order to get a relatively decent vantage point for the main acts, you had to get there over an hour before they were to come on stage. And for me, when I attend a music festival, I like to have a constant flow of drink.

Charlie:
I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not necking my drinks, but I like to feel slightly tipsy throughout the day, as do most Brits at a festival. I'd say most Brits get plastered, but you know, I'm a reasonable guy, apparently. Um, so this would mean that I would have to stock up on a few beers to get me through waiting for this show and staying for the show, right? So I'd have to stock up on a few beers which would go warm, which is not great. And then I'd have to hold my bladder for almost three hours, which is somewhat impossible if you've already broken the seal. Now, that phrase, um, that that won't be in your textbooks. If you if you wanted to hear this phrase in action, you'd have to spend your evenings lurking in and around a pub toilet. Um, which, you know, might might not be your idea of fun. Um, but if it is, then, um. No, actually, I probably shouldn't condone that behaviour. Um, but yeah, friends, especially young adults in the UK who find this, um, phenomenon rather novel, as in, um, the drinking and things around, um, drinking in public. We like to warn each other to avoid breaking the seal. Uh, the idea is that after you pee for the first time since your drinking session started, you'll now be needing to pee very frequently.

Charlie:
So people try to hold off from going to the toilet for the first time for as long as possible, especially when the evening involves some form of transport for a prolonged duration because you don't want to miss time needing a pit stop when there's no pit to stop at, right? So yeah, the phrase is to break the seal and you could hear it being used in a sentence like, 'oh, I really don't want to break the seal yet.' By the way, this isn't implying that you're wanting to damage a large marine mammal, um, known as a seal. It is referring to a metaphorical seal, rather like an imagined barrier or control that supposedly holds back the need to urinate. Um, a jar of jam is sealed shut before you open it for the first time, right? So I'm referring to that kind of seal, not a 'urh urh urh!' seal. Ah, I love my job. Um, so someone could use this phrase when giving drinking advice. Um, you could say, 'oh, you don't want to break the seal yet, mate, we've got an hour's bus ride soon.'.

Charlie:
Ah, right. Shall we go back to waiting for cheese to roll down a hill? Um, so you have to get there early. Hang on. How early are we talking? Um. 9.30. Oh 9.30. Not so bad. Okay, but the races don't start till noon. Oh, that's a long wait. Hm, okay. Um, roads are closed off and temporary car parks are set up to accommodate the crowds. But still, there's a brief trek to the footpath that leads to Cooper's Hill. Uh, the hill overlooks a pub called the Cheese Rollers, and for the event, areas are taped off with signs that say 'Warning! Cheese rolling is a potentially dangerous activity for both participants and spectators. You are present entirely at your own risk.' So, um, spectators set up camp at strategic spots to view the race, often behind protective barriers like hay bales. And then the journalists and competitors from around the world arrive to, uh, to get to the races, uh, that start at around midday.

Charlie:
And there's also an MC that announces the races and, and does the rolling of the cheese down the hill. Um, and this seems to get like a second head start before these nutters decide to chase after it. Actually, let's listen to a race right now just to, you know, get the vibe of it.

Charlie:
Okay, so, uh, they start running down, and I'd say on average, they have taken their first tumble in less than ten steps. And then some of them seem to opt for the, uh, I'll continue to roll all the way down. Uh, others get up and go again, each time slightly less confident. And then some are going for a more logical choice, in my opinion, which is to skid down.

Charlie:
So the cheese has by now reached the bottom of the hill, and of about 20 to 30 competitors per race, I'd guess, uh, 1 or 2 often end up a lot further ahead than the majority. And then what do they get when they come to the finish line? A huge rugby tackle by who I guess is the local rugby team. Yeah, it's quite funny. The rugby team are standing at the bottom of the hill in a way that looks like they're looking out for people's safety, and then bam, they dive straight into those who come to the end of the hill a bit too fast. But, um, yeah, I think some of them, the rugby team, are getting a real kick out of tackling, um, these, uh, dizzy, injured, uh, non rugby folk. Um, I think I've picked up on this from the video that it is quite rugby like. There's just, yeah, a close association to, uh, the sport itself.

Charlie:
I think the people running it seem to be quite big into their rugby. I mean, I'm just stereotyping what they look like, but, um, kind of makes sense, right? Rolling down a hill, tackling each other, being very physical and not minding, injuring themselves. But yeah, um, let's listen to the interviews of some of the winners who are given the wheel of cheese to hold high in the air like a trophy.

Announcer:
Give it up for Kevin all the way from Washington State!

Journalist1:
And what did it feel like to have done it?

Competitor1:
It was really good. I don't know if you saw me, but I was super emotional, I was.

Journalist1:
What's the plan for after this? Big party?

Competitor1:
Uh, yeah, I might hit hit some pubs. We'll see. Yeah. Cut some cheese out of this. Yeah. Thank you so much.

Competitor2:
I'm buzzing.

Journalist1:
Why did you want to do it?

Competitor2:
Oh, just, I don't know. I love these sort of things and I don't know, just. Because it's there. You know what? To quote Mallory. Because. Because it's there.

Journalist2:
How do you train for this?

Competitor2:
I didn't, I didn't. There was a sneaky training session that went on last night, but I wasn't made aware of it. But I don't think you can train for it, can you? Really? It's just being an idiot.

Charlie:
So I'm glad these journalists are asking that very question. Like as soon as they finished. Why? Why did you want to do this? Um, yeah. This guy, he didn't really have a good answer, did he? And and none of them seemed to. I've listened to quite a few. They all they all know it's crazy to do it, but yeah, I guess there are lots of things people choose to do that are incredibly risky and rather pointless. But it doesn't stop us. Humans are pretty stupid, aren't we? Um, there's also, I did see there's also an uphill race for the kids. That's, uh. That's that's cute. Is it? Is it cute? Basically getting them involved at a young age to prime them for their rite of passage. You know, they'll sit them down. One day, son. You'll win that wheel of cheese. We'll buy a whole tin of Jacob's cream crackers, and the whole family will have some seriously messed-up dreams.

Charlie:
Um, interesting. I wonder if that is a global assumption or not. Maybe not. So in the UK and, um, to some extent in the US, we think that eating too much cheese, especially near bedtime, will cause you to have really strange dreams. Um, I don't think it has been proven though.

Charlie:
Uh, so probably just a bit of folklore. Um, but yeah, it might be joked about in, uh, uh, it would be joked about a lot in the Cheese Rollers pub after the races conclude. Um, as I'm sure a lot of people end up going there to celebrate their, um, you know, their wheel of cheese, their, um, ACL replacement surgeries or to simply mask the pain in their ankles, though, um, I imagine a lot of Guinness is drunk at the cheese rollers or maybe just some English ales, but, uh, yeah, there we have the the British tradition of cheese rolling.

Charlie:
I first learned about it in school when I was about 15. Um, I'd say most people have loosely heard about this event or, you know, cultural thing, um, partly due to the rather horrendous tumbles that make it semi-viral on YouTube. Um, so if you aren't too squeamish, then search cheese rolling on YouTube or even, uh, cheese rolling wipe-out montage. But, uh, I personally can't stomach it and still don't see the point in it. But I do understand the origins and have also been reminded that there are many people that do things just for the thrill of it. So, um, yeah, if you're an adrenaline seeker and think having all ligaments intact is a bit overrated, then get over to the Cotswolds in May and throw yourself down Cooper's Hill.

Charlie:
And my preferred suggestion would be to spectate from a safe distance. But, you know, that's me showing my age again, um I think we'll leave it there actually, I'll end, uh, on a slightly relevant fact, though, that I heard once upon a time that is, uh, probably a load of bull. But they say if you haven't bungee jumped by the time that you're 30 years old, you will never end up doing one. Hmm.

Charlie:
If you are an exception, let me know. Let me know on on Instagram. I'm getting a bit more active on there these days, so go follow me on the British English Podcast on Instagram and message me to tell me you are an anomaly to this supposed fact. Alright. That's all from me today. Um, cheese rolling puns. Um, uh, don't brie a stranger. Uh uh, tune in next time for a wheely good episode. Sorry, sorry. No, I, uh, I really do hope you found today's episode uh, Good-a (Gouda)?! Alright, that's enough for me. My name is Charlie. Thank you very much for listening to the end of this episode of the British English Podcast.

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Transcript of Bitesize Ep 79 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome back to another episode of the British English Podcast where I, Charlie, the host of this show, expose you to some British culture and British English to help you better understand the language and British people. Now we're going to attempt to understand a group of people I have personally never understood. Growing up, I heard about these people that would take part in this cultural event every year. But after seeing some videos over the years of what takes place, I just couldn't and right now still can't wrap my head around why these people still choose to do this barbaric behaviour. But hopefully by the end of this episode, we will both be the wiser and will understand the mindset behind these people.

Charlie:
So let's start by pretending we're both in London, and if we venture west for a couple of hours by car on a good run, we could get to the Cotswolds, which is renowned for its picturesque charm, quintessential English countryside and rolling hills. And if we were to explore these rolling hills towards the end of May every year for the last 200 years, minus the duration of the pandemic, you might think you are losing your marbles when looking up a certain hill called Cooper's Hill, because your brain would be telling you that hundreds of people are deliberately throwing themselves down this hill, quite literally, at a breakneck speed. And before fully registering this madness, you might even be hit on the shins by the very item these people are trying to desperately catch, which is a four kilogram wheel of double Gloucestershire cheese. That's right, a four kilogram wheel of double Gloucestershire cheese. A popular cheese in the UK with a smooth and creamy texture and rich, buttery flavour with a hint of nuttiness, I might add.

Charlie:
And while perhaps not as internationally renowned as Cheddar or Stilton, Double Gloucester holds a cherished spot in British cheese tradition, a tradition that has become quite the spectacle as people really do start to run down a hill chasing a wheel of cheese. And this hill is an incredibly steep hill. Not only is it steep, but at closer inspection it is made mostly of huge tufts of grass far from a smoothly traversable one. No, no, no. One more likely to get you twisting your ankle on it. And if you ever ran down a hill, perhaps as a child you most likely learnt very quickly that this leads to you falling head over heels and continuing to tumble and turn all the way down until you're at the very bottom, with at best a sore head and at worst, a broken leg in a hospital bed. Now, you'll be glad to hear that paramedics are on hand to aid any of the unfortunately injured cheese runners who didn't think that sprinting down a steep hill as fast as a wheel of cheese can go would end badly.

Charlie:
But this doesn't quite help me understand why people are doing this. So let's start by learning about why this peculiar event began in the first place, shall we? So some historians believe that the cheese rolling might have its roots in a Pagan festival that celebrated the arrival of spring. In this context, pagan basically means before Christianity, a time before Christianity was popular in England. This is a context based definition of pagan right now. Um so the rolling of the cheese could have symbolised the rolling of the sun. Hmm. Okay, marking the end of winter and the beginning of the growing season. Okay. Yeah, that kind of makes sense.

Charlie:
Um, this interpretation aligns with other wheel like symbols used in pagan rituals across Europe, which often celebrated solar and lunar cycles. Okay, yeah, that kind of makes sense. Um, another theory suggests that the event was originally a fertility rite. Huh. With the rolling cheese symbolising the sowing of seeds, which was thought to help encourage fertility of the land and yield good harvests. Okay. Yeah, I can see that. Um, participants who chased after the cheese might have believed they were bringing good luck and fertility to their own families and crops. See? Yeah, this this makes more sense to me. I can I can start to wrap my head around the logic of actually trying to catch this wheel of cheese in order to yield a good harvest for your village let's say.

Charlie:
Um, like that would be a very heroic action, wouldn't it? And you and you would be respected among your group for even for even trying to catch the wheel, even if you didn't get it. But still, back then, gosh, they wouldn't. I heard recently that, uh, before antibiotics, people would die from the most ridiculous things. Like, uh, one person apparently was gardening and, uh, got pricked by a thorn from a rose bush on their cheek. Just a scratch, basically. And then that got infected. And then that led to his death. So he died from a thorn scratching his cheek. So, I mean, nowadays we have surgeries for all kinds of, um, ligament damage and things like that. But back then, if you buggered up your knee or your ankle or anything or shoulder, you might be suffering with that for the rest of your years. So very heroic, even even more heroic back then, I guess, because, you know, you're putting your neck on the line to provide food and, uh, stability. Right? But fast forward to today. I don't think many people from Gloucester, um, are hoping that someone will catch the wheel of cheese to provide them with a season without famine. Um, I mean, they just need to pop down Aldi, right? If they're struggling to afford anything from Waitrose.

Charlie:
Another reason that is also suggested is that the event was used to determine grazing rights on the common land around Cooper's Hill. What does this mean, I hear you ask? So whoever won the race could have been granted the privilege of grazing their livestock on the land so they could have their cows and sheep grazing, getting, um, a lot of nutrients from this potentially maybe very delicious land of, of of, uh, lovely, luscious grass? Again, um, I kind of get that. It's a more exciting way to fairly assign things, um, compared to, you know, flipping a coin or doing ippa-dippa-dation. Ippa-dippa-dation! Oh, wow. Okay. I've stumbled upon a a cultural thing here. So in the playground, English children often decide who is going to be the person that is seeking in hide and seek, you know that game hide and seek, or the person that is catching people in another playground game called It or Stuck in the mud. Stuck in the mud. This has dawned on me that I need to do a children's playground games episode, don't I? Um, but yeah, quickly. So Ippa-dippa-dation is a little rhyme that is said while everyone stands around in a circle and puts one foot forward, then one random person kneels down and goes around tapping on each shoe per each syllable of the rhyme. Yeah, and the rhyme is 'Ippa-dippa-dation, my operation, how many people at the station!' And then some, the person that that lands that finger lands on says a number at random, say three. Then they continue round, saying 'Whoever lands on number three will surely not be it. One, two, three.' So that person that the person has landed on is now not going to be the seeker in hide and seek. And then you do it again and again and again until there's only one person left. Um, I don't know why I told you that. Um. Oh, yes. To to choo-. It's a more fun way to choose who gets grazing rights by running down a hill to chase some cheese rather than Ippa-dippa-dation.

Charlie:
Yes, because by the time you're adults, who wants to do that or who wants to listen to a podcast explaining that? Not me! So I can see why this may have caught on as a tradition. But again, in this day and age, I don't quite get why they are doing it now. But again, I'm I'm over the hill. Haha. Over the hill. Get it? Um, I accidentally stumbled upon that pun. Um. Yeah, I am, I'm certainly more risk averse than I used to be. I should clarify, I don't think I'm over the hill. I'd say this phrase, which suggests you are now, quote unquote old, is mostly aimed at people who are, I don't know, 40 plus. And it's joked about when people are turning 30. But nowadays, you know, seeing how some celebs in their 60s look more attractive and fitter than most of my friends, I'd say that this phrase is a bit pointless nowadays.

Charlie:
But yeah, that's just my opinion. The the phrase still exists, so you might still hear it. To be over the hill. Okay, so we've learned the potential origins of this crazy tradition of cheese rolling. I personally still don't quite get why people continue to do it. Um, so let's see what the day entails to see if it sounds like a fun event, at least to spectate at, because I can imagine people get praised for doing this crazy leg breaking activity if the spectators enjoy the day. It's like, uh oh yeah, well done for entertaining us while we didn't break our legs. Sorry about yours. So, um, let's, uh, let's start with the arrival and gathering.

Charlie:
So participants and spectators often arrive early in the morning to secure a good spot on the hill. The hill itself is quite steep and offers limited space for safe viewing, so arriving early can be crucial. Yuck. I'm personally not a morning person and honestly despise getting to an event before it starts. Um, like, I went to Glastonbury last year and in order to get a relatively decent vantage point for the main acts, you had to get there over an hour before they were to come on stage. And for me, when I attend a music festival, I like to have a constant flow of drink.

Charlie:
I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not necking my drinks, but I like to feel slightly tipsy throughout the day, as do most Brits at a festival. I'd say most Brits get plastered, but you know, I'm a reasonable guy, apparently. Um, so this would mean that I would have to stock up on a few beers to get me through waiting for this show and staying for the show, right? So I'd have to stock up on a few beers which would go warm, which is not great. And then I'd have to hold my bladder for almost three hours, which is somewhat impossible if you've already broken the seal. Now, that phrase, um, that that won't be in your textbooks. If you if you wanted to hear this phrase in action, you'd have to spend your evenings lurking in and around a pub toilet. Um, which, you know, might might not be your idea of fun. Um, but if it is, then, um. No, actually, I probably shouldn't condone that behaviour. Um, but yeah, friends, especially young adults in the UK who find this, um, phenomenon rather novel, as in, um, the drinking and things around, um, drinking in public. We like to warn each other to avoid breaking the seal. Uh, the idea is that after you pee for the first time since your drinking session started, you'll now be needing to pee very frequently.

Charlie:
So people try to hold off from going to the toilet for the first time for as long as possible, especially when the evening involves some form of transport for a prolonged duration because you don't want to miss time needing a pit stop when there's no pit to stop at, right? So yeah, the phrase is to break the seal and you could hear it being used in a sentence like, 'oh, I really don't want to break the seal yet.' By the way, this isn't implying that you're wanting to damage a large marine mammal, um, known as a seal. It is referring to a metaphorical seal, rather like an imagined barrier or control that supposedly holds back the need to urinate. Um, a jar of jam is sealed shut before you open it for the first time, right? So I'm referring to that kind of seal, not a 'urh urh urh!' seal. Ah, I love my job. Um, so someone could use this phrase when giving drinking advice. Um, you could say, 'oh, you don't want to break the seal yet, mate, we've got an hour's bus ride soon.'.

Charlie:
Ah, right. Shall we go back to waiting for cheese to roll down a hill? Um, so you have to get there early. Hang on. How early are we talking? Um. 9.30. Oh 9.30. Not so bad. Okay, but the races don't start till noon. Oh, that's a long wait. Hm, okay. Um, roads are closed off and temporary car parks are set up to accommodate the crowds. But still, there's a brief trek to the footpath that leads to Cooper's Hill. Uh, the hill overlooks a pub called the Cheese Rollers, and for the event, areas are taped off with signs that say 'Warning! Cheese rolling is a potentially dangerous activity for both participants and spectators. You are present entirely at your own risk.' So, um, spectators set up camp at strategic spots to view the race, often behind protective barriers like hay bales. And then the journalists and competitors from around the world arrive to, uh, to get to the races, uh, that start at around midday.

Charlie:
And there's also an MC that announces the races and, and does the rolling of the cheese down the hill. Um, and this seems to get like a second head start before these nutters decide to chase after it. Actually, let's listen to a race right now just to, you know, get the vibe of it.

Charlie:
Okay, so, uh, they start running down, and I'd say on average, they have taken their first tumble in less than ten steps. And then some of them seem to opt for the, uh, I'll continue to roll all the way down. Uh, others get up and go again, each time slightly less confident. And then some are going for a more logical choice, in my opinion, which is to skid down.

Charlie:
So the cheese has by now reached the bottom of the hill, and of about 20 to 30 competitors per race, I'd guess, uh, 1 or 2 often end up a lot further ahead than the majority. And then what do they get when they come to the finish line? A huge rugby tackle by who I guess is the local rugby team. Yeah, it's quite funny. The rugby team are standing at the bottom of the hill in a way that looks like they're looking out for people's safety, and then bam, they dive straight into those who come to the end of the hill a bit too fast. But, um, yeah, I think some of them, the rugby team, are getting a real kick out of tackling, um, these, uh, dizzy, injured, uh, non rugby folk. Um, I think I've picked up on this from the video that it is quite rugby like. There's just, yeah, a close association to, uh, the sport itself.

Charlie:
I think the people running it seem to be quite big into their rugby. I mean, I'm just stereotyping what they look like, but, um, kind of makes sense, right? Rolling down a hill, tackling each other, being very physical and not minding, injuring themselves. But yeah, um, let's listen to the interviews of some of the winners who are given the wheel of cheese to hold high in the air like a trophy.

Announcer:
Give it up for Kevin all the way from Washington State!

Journalist1:
And what did it feel like to have done it?

Competitor1:
It was really good. I don't know if you saw me, but I was super emotional, I was.

Journalist1:
What's the plan for after this? Big party?

Competitor1:
Uh, yeah, I might hit hit some pubs. We'll see. Yeah. Cut some cheese out of this. Yeah. Thank you so much.

Competitor2:
I'm buzzing.

Journalist1:
Why did you want to do it?

Competitor2:
Oh, just, I don't know. I love these sort of things and I don't know, just. Because it's there. You know what? To quote Mallory. Because. Because it's there.

Journalist2:
How do you train for this?

Competitor2:
I didn't, I didn't. There was a sneaky training session that went on last night, but I wasn't made aware of it. But I don't think you can train for it, can you? Really? It's just being an idiot.

Charlie:
So I'm glad these journalists are asking that very question. Like as soon as they finished. Why? Why did you want to do this? Um, yeah. This guy, he didn't really have a good answer, did he? And and none of them seemed to. I've listened to quite a few. They all they all know it's crazy to do it, but yeah, I guess there are lots of things people choose to do that are incredibly risky and rather pointless. But it doesn't stop us. Humans are pretty stupid, aren't we? Um, there's also, I did see there's also an uphill race for the kids. That's, uh. That's that's cute. Is it? Is it cute? Basically getting them involved at a young age to prime them for their rite of passage. You know, they'll sit them down. One day, son. You'll win that wheel of cheese. We'll buy a whole tin of Jacob's cream crackers, and the whole family will have some seriously messed-up dreams.

Charlie:
Um, interesting. I wonder if that is a global assumption or not. Maybe not. So in the UK and, um, to some extent in the US, we think that eating too much cheese, especially near bedtime, will cause you to have really strange dreams. Um, I don't think it has been proven though.

Charlie:
Uh, so probably just a bit of folklore. Um, but yeah, it might be joked about in, uh, uh, it would be joked about a lot in the Cheese Rollers pub after the races conclude. Um, as I'm sure a lot of people end up going there to celebrate their, um, you know, their wheel of cheese, their, um, ACL replacement surgeries or to simply mask the pain in their ankles, though, um, I imagine a lot of Guinness is drunk at the cheese rollers or maybe just some English ales, but, uh, yeah, there we have the the British tradition of cheese rolling.

Charlie:
I first learned about it in school when I was about 15. Um, I'd say most people have loosely heard about this event or, you know, cultural thing, um, partly due to the rather horrendous tumbles that make it semi-viral on YouTube. Um, so if you aren't too squeamish, then search cheese rolling on YouTube or even, uh, cheese rolling wipe-out montage. But, uh, I personally can't stomach it and still don't see the point in it. But I do understand the origins and have also been reminded that there are many people that do things just for the thrill of it. So, um, yeah, if you're an adrenaline seeker and think having all ligaments intact is a bit overrated, then get over to the Cotswolds in May and throw yourself down Cooper's Hill.

Charlie:
And my preferred suggestion would be to spectate from a safe distance. But, you know, that's me showing my age again, um I think we'll leave it there actually, I'll end, uh, on a slightly relevant fact, though, that I heard once upon a time that is, uh, probably a load of bull. But they say if you haven't bungee jumped by the time that you're 30 years old, you will never end up doing one. Hmm.

Charlie:
If you are an exception, let me know. Let me know on on Instagram. I'm getting a bit more active on there these days, so go follow me on the British English Podcast on Instagram and message me to tell me you are an anomaly to this supposed fact. Alright. That's all from me today. Um, cheese rolling puns. Um, uh, don't brie a stranger. Uh uh, tune in next time for a wheely good episode. Sorry, sorry. No, I, uh, I really do hope you found today's episode uh, Good-a (Gouda)?! Alright, that's enough for me. My name is Charlie. Thank you very much for listening to the end of this episode of the British English Podcast.

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