Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Aburr Gut-harrdur's Big Splash
When the Cat's away, the mice they play; it appears that while I've been taking my Northumbrian Pink Fluffy Bunny Egg Festival break, Aburr Gut-harrdur - that celebrated monocular Viking prankster and loveable rogue - has been up to his old tricks again. Bless.
This past Saturday was the annual Northumbrian Celebration of the Longboats, which is a race between two rival kindergartens in Yorvik for the coveted prize of a barrel of ale and some tarnished silverware. This race has taken place at the Springtime of each year ever since the dawning of the mists of antiquity, and its forgotten primary purpose - believed to be some pagan religious rite - has long been buried under a crushing avalanche of tradition and business. The competing kindergartens are two of the oldest educational establishments in the known universe, and the prestige attached to these rival playgroups is immense. How much more, then, is the kudos awarded to those children who are fortunate enough to take up the oars? (I don't know: I'm just asking.)
The race began as usual with the joyful sound of a horn, and the rival longboats - oars working in the perfect symmetry of time and effort - stroked gracefully and purposefully through the murky, slurpy waters of the mighty Ouse. The distance of the race is nineteen thousand furlongs, and by any accounts is a formidable physical challenge for the participants - most of all the masters at the back of each boat, who crack their whips over the crew and yell hoarse abusive profanities and other encouragements at their sweating slaves.
As the race reached its ten thousandth furlong, the boats were observed to have unexpectedly stopped. This caused a certain amount of consternation among the onlookers - especially those who had wagered billions of (non-existent) Holy Groats on the outcome. The reason for this was that the oarsmen discovered a human head bobbing in the water which was discovered to be attached to a living body. It was - yes, you've guessed it - Aburr Gut-harrdur. He was taking a swim - ostensibly to remove the fleas which graced the clothing which clad his bear-like frame.
When he was rescued from the fast-flowing cold broth of the Ouse, he told onlookers that he was protesting against the elitism of these evil Anglo-Saxon schools - as well as making a stand for the Viking faith and the Great Sacred Eddas. He was frogmarched away to the nearest oubliette by members of the local Costumed Thug contingent, and was heard to be muttering fire and slaughter and other terms of endearment against the boatsmen in the name of his foreign gods. The race continued thereafter and resulted in a glorious win for one side or other.
Our friend is going to be deported to the distant shores of the as yet undiscovered Ultima Thule, where he will be subjected to the machinations of their Fluffy Diversity Commissariat. Dear me..
What I don't understand is how he managed to swim as far as he did - bearing in mind the fact that he had one of his hands removed in the Levant as a punishment for stealing ladies' underwear from washing lines...