Monday, 1 August 2011

Thou shalt always wear Tweed

I went along for a nose at the Vintage Marketplace on the South Bank yesterday - a fab range of clothing, furniture and bric-a-brac, but as to be expected very little I wanted, and what I wanted I couldn't afford. Hey ho, it was a beautifully sunny day to wander around the area, in full swing (literally) as it was for the Vintage Festival (all part of the 60th anniversary of the original Festival of Britain, which gave us this cultural centre as its legacy).

Of course, with tickets for the three-day festival at £60 to £85 per day there was no way I was going to be a participant in any of the main events on offer. I was surprised it was so expensive (given that the Lovebox weekender was only £48 a day), but I suppose as it offered "13 venues, six floors, 70 live bands and 150 DJs", and with stars such as Sandie Shaw, Adam Ant, Heaven 17, Booker T, Thomas Dolby, David McAlmont, Percy Sledge and many more, these things don't come cheap.

There were, however, plenty of free things to see (notwithstanding the Marketplace). One of these was a very British phenomenon indeed...

The Chap Olympiad has been Britain’s most eccentric sporting event since 2005. It is a sporting contest for the unathletic, the unfit and the exceptionally well-dressed. Points are awarded for panache, archly-raised eyebrows and maintaining an immaculate crease in one’s trousers. Breaking a sweat, grunting or vulgar displays of victorious pride are penalised. Any contestant yielding a negative result in tests for alcohol content in the blood will be immediately disqualified.

Events include:

1. Butler Baiting: a circle of chaps is attended to by a butler. They try to bait him by making him carry out unreasonable tasks, such as fastening the lower button on their waistcoats and mixing a dry martini with Vodka.

2. Swooning: one for the ladies. A line of chaps faces a line of chapettes, and the chaps have to induce the ladies to swoon through any means possible.

3. Dressage: chapettes mounted on chaps wearing horse masks have to manoeuvre their steeds around a series of unsightly obstacles.

4. Ironing Board Surfing: Contestants mount their ironing boards and are carried over the finishing line by their butlers and housekeepers.

5. Moving Hat Stand: contestants must throw their hats on to a hat stand, which the opposing team is allowed to move randomly.

6. Briefcase Phalanx: two teams of ten chaps face each other in battle lines, dressed for the office and clutching briefcases. They then charge at each other with the aim of stealing the contents of each other’s briefcases.

7. Shouting at Foreigners: contestants must pit their gentlemanly skills against a curmudgeonly, uncooperative foreign shop assistant

8. Umbrella Jousting: two contestants, armed only with brollies and reinforced copies of the Daily Telegraph, must go at one another on bicycles and attempt to knock each other off.

It was even more amazing to watch!

The Chap Manifesto

Vintage Festival

(PS The Vintage Timeline I posted in my previous blog about the festival has been taken down for some reason. Dolores Is investigating the problem with the original DJs at Six Million Steps.)


  1. Was lovely to bump into you and the gang at Halfway on Sunday during my break from the Vintage Festival - I did have a lovely afternoon considering I was on my own but I think they should halve the prices if they want the events to sell out - I was in row 5 for the evening show with 10CC, Adam Ant, David McAlmont (whom I thought stole the show with Yes!) and Sandie Shaw and the 4 seats to my right were vacant as we the 2 in front of me …

    I want to look like a rockabilly now.


  2. I am not surprised there were empty seats, dear. But at least the audience looked good... Jx

    PS Good to see you, too!


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