86-year-old Gloucestershire farmer and cheesemaker, Diana Smart, who has donated her cheeses to the famous event for 15 years, has decided to stop after having a visit from some local police officers.
Smart says that three officers visited her home and told her not to donate five of her 8lb (3.6kg) cheeses to the annual event because it was ‘dangerous’ and apparently said that if she did and people got injured it would be on her.
“They threatened me, saying I would be wholly responsible if anyone got injured,” she told the UK’s Daily Telegraph. “I’m 86, I don’t have the will or the cash to fight any lawsuits. It’s crazy.”
The police’s ‘heavy-handedness’ has been met with cries of outrage from the venerable elders of the cheese rolling community, who’ve had labelled the officer’s conduct as “completely unbelievable”.
“It’s outrageous,” said one whiskery spokesperson. “You cannot stop someone selling cheese. If they try and stop us we will use something else.”
The ‘something else’ is a particularly interesting point, for if you cannot use cheese in a cheese rolling event then what’s the point of holding the thing at all?
Perhaps they can just roll a whole cow down the hill instead?
For those who aren’t quite sure what this ‘cheese rolling event’ is, then I shall try to explain.
It is a quaintly English phenomenon, said to date back to the early 19th century, in which a bunch of men and women will stand at the top of the steep Cooper’s Hill in the scenic Gloucestershire countryside and chase a large wheel of cheese from the top down to the bottom.
The event usually sees a number of injuries as the participants hurtle down the grassy slope, often falling over, turning ankles and crashing into one another during their mad cap decent.The person who gets the cheese is declared the winner and is then allowed to keep, and presumably, consume the cheese wheel.
A Gloucestershire police spokesman said: “Advice has been given to all those who have participated in any planning of an unofficial cheese rolling event. We feel it is important that those who could be constituted as organisers of the event, are aware of the responsibilities that come with it so that they can make an informed decision about their participation.”
The idea that an 86-year-old cheesemaker could be possibly held responsible for people hurting themselves taking part in this bizarre annual ritual is ludicrous.
That’s what really get’s my gouda!