Today I have read about the Gloucester Cheese-Rolling, where, after advice (interpretation = warning) from Gloucestershire Police, a foam cheese was substituted for the usual double-Gloucester cheese that has been chased down the hill every year since the early nineteenth century.
Shame the cheese had to be replaced with foam, but well done for going ahead with the event.
Now I understand that there are concerns over the number of people who have turned up for this event in the past, but why is there so often such a heavy-handed approach?
I think life has to be worth living and that involves some risk.
If the police and authorities are committing resources to monitoring an event such as this, why can’t those resources focus on improving the event, helping the organisers and making life just that bit better?
I think back to an event I used to take part in. For many years, the sixth-formers at my school used to form a charity committee which organised an annual 26-mile charity walk around South-West London. I remember the blisters well!
Not only did pupils from our own school take part, but those from other local schools took part too and we used to raise £10 to £15,000, which in the 1970s/80s could buy a minibus or serious equipment for local charities.
Hundreds, if not more than a thousand, individuals used to take part in this yearly event, which also required marshalls and other supporters on the day. There was a tremendous camaraderie among all those involved.
After I left school, I returned several times to take part as an Old Boy. On the last occasion, I believe there was trouble between a gang and some walkers. The police were involved and, as I remember, the headmaster decided there would be no more charity walks. So a small number of people brought a valuable and enjoyable event to an end. I am glad that he was not headmaster while I was a pupil.
I think we need to be more courageous when addressing the issues surrounding events and weigh up the vast public benefits against the potential problems. Do authorities and police need to use a ‘social scale’ which recognises this? It could assess the damage caused by stopping events which channel energy into harmless, sociable fun and the risk of stifling that energy, possibly causing it to seek an anti-social form of expression.
Let’s hope so and let’s hope the Gloucester cheese-rolling continues every year, hopefully with a real cheese.