And the mermaids swam fastest

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The Pudding team from the Mermaid on their way to a win
A competitor weighs up the Xmas pudding before the race begins
A competitor weighs up the Christmas pudding before the race begins

One of the highlights of “Great Expectations” last Saturday (and the Sport section can NOT be the only part of Rye News without a Christmas story) was the Christmas Pudding race in the High Street featuring (apparently) teams of four persons, a number of laps, and some fairly small Christmas puddings – and the winners were the Mermaid Inn  who swept the board with a flip of their tails.

Cheers and partisan support as teams set off on several laps of the High Street for the Christmas Pudding race
Cheers and partisan support as teams set off on several laps of the High Street for the Christmas Pudding race

The rules (what rules?) seemed a little obscure, but essentially it was a relay race with the runners handing over the baton (in this case a small Christmas pudding on a plate) at the end of each lap (with a lap consisting of the start down to a turning point about 60/70 yards away and return to the start).  As this was Rye, it was naturally assumed that runners would refrain from kicking, punching or tripping their opponents, or setting fire to their puddings.

The puddings themselves, did of course have to remain on the plate throughout and this was helped by their natural stickiness (although this reminds the writer of a schooldays incident of the 1960’s in a parent’s egg and spoon race which was easily won by one father – the only competitor not to drop his egg at some point – and on being asked the secret of his success, inverted the spoon with the egg remaining in place. The answer turned out to be chewing gum, secretly placed on the spoon before the start. He was, of course, disqualified, but given a special prize for ingenuity (the school liked to encourage initiative)

The Mermaid Inn team of Ben Foster, Daniel Dinsdale, Alain Horgan and Harvey Laker were successful in the Christmas pudding race.
The Mermaid Inn team of Ben Foster, Daniel Dinsdale, Alain Horgan and Harvey Laker were successful in the Christmas pudding race.

No doubt the winners practised racing between the kitchen and customers at their dining tables – though lintels at doorsteps in old buildings like the Mermaid can be a hazard [The Editor has a boring story which he tells frequently about Leander rowing club at Henley, Princess Margaret and a bowl of soup. He was tired of “waiting” at the time and failed to notice the lintel in the doorway. The rest is history.]

Amid the hubbub from the excitable crowd it certainly lived up to some of Rye’s competitions in the 60s and 70s (in pre-“Strictly” days when we regularly left our homes for fresh air and exercise) though perhaps next year competitors should be dressed as Victorian characters and the puddings lit before the start. A team consisting of Fagin, Bill Sykes, the Artful Dodger and Nancy would have a good chance – unless, perhaps, up against Flashman and his cronies.

 

Photos: Dan Lake, John Minter