K is for Kooky: Eccentric Geniuses and British Festivals

Kooky: ‘Strange or eccentric’.

Stumped for ideas once again as to what I personally find strange and eccentric, I cast my net upon the world wide web, curious as to what hits I’d get if I put in ‘strange’ and ‘eccentric’.

strange brainsOne of the first things that popped up was Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen by Clifford Pickover.

“In this unusual and penetrating work, Clifford Pickover… takes us on a wild ride through the bizarre lives of brilliant, but eccentric geniuses who made significant contributions to science and philosophy. Unveiling the hidden secrets,[he] delights us with unexpected stories of their obsessive personalities and strange phobias.”

Sounds like my kind of book. I’m fascinated by the inner workings of people’s minds and all their little quirks. This will be going on my birthday list.

The next thing to catch my eye was a Rough Guides article: ‘Five strange and uniquely British experiences’. I’m not sure these 5 would be what many people would pick, but I investigated.

  1. The Chap Olympics
    Participants dress up in clothing from the Victorian era to the 1940s, apparently, to take part in events like Umbrella Jousting (on bikes) and the Cucumber Sandwich Discus, held in Bedford Square, Bloomsbury. This year it’s on Saturday 12th July, noon to dusk, and you can get tickets here if it sounds like your, er, ‘bag’.
  2. The Summer Solstice at Stonehenge
    File:Rave in the Henge 2005 02.jpgAs Stonehenge is in Britain, this can’t help but be uniquely British! It seems a shame that hype and drunken revelry have been allowed on the same bill as people celebrating an important day in their religious calendar, but then it’s unsurprising; in somehow it’s become socially acceptable to mock those trying to practise Paganism, a religion with roots far older than Christianity. Ironic when you consider how many people moan about ‘Eastern’ religions ‘usurping’ English traditions – usually around five seconds before they say, ‘after all, you don’t get Christians murdering people in the name of their religion, do you!’
    Closely followed by me rocking in the corner and/or banging my head against a brick wall, mumbling ‘Crusades, Inquisition, Cathar Massacres’ over and over again…
  3. Morris Dancing in the Isle of WightFile:Mechanical Morris Dancers at Yarmouth Old Gaffers Festival 2011 2.JPG
    Why in the Isle of Wight? Morris dancing is practised throughout the UK in ye olde villages everywhere. It has to be there, the writer says, because ‘the Isle of Wight is a hotbed of morris madness, with no less than six active troupes’. I see. Although I’ve been there twice without seeing so much as an ankle bell or funny hat…
  4. The Cotswold Olimpicks
    No that’s not a spelling error. Apparently these games have been going on since the seventeenth century on a hill outside Chipping Camden. Games vary from year to year but shin-kicking is very popular… ooh, I can’t wait (? ouch!). Tickets aren’t available yet, but this year it’s on 30th May 2014 at 7 pm.
  5. Shetland’s Viking Ritual
    NOW you’re talking. Finally, a ‘unique British experience’ that I’d actually like to, er… experience. Officially called Up Helly Aa, it takes place in Lerwick, Shetland on the last Tuesday in January. More about this in W for Wacky.

Kooky enough for ya? 😉

1 thought on “K is for Kooky: Eccentric Geniuses and British Festivals

  1. Chap Olympics does sound kooky. I might have to slice some cucumbers and let the seniors I teach toss a few when we read “The Importance of Being Earnest” in a couple of weeks. via A to Z Challenge

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