Pooh sticks

28 01 2012

No, this wasn’t intended merely as an axiom. And I assure you that no blankets were harmed in the production of this posting.

I am referring here to a most serious sport. First conceived and described by the great philosopher A.A. Milne in his 1928 treatise on friendship and growing up: The House at Pooh Corner.

In a nut-shell: at a given command from the totally independent grown-up umpire, competitors each drop (not throw) a stick off a bridge on the up-stream side. The winner is the hard-bitten competitor whose stick first emerges on the down-stream side. There’s lots of subtle additional rules and exceptions depending on local conditions and whether one of the competitors is winning too often. These are referred to collectively as the “Because daddy said so” rules, though nobody has ever found a written copy.

Some argue that the game is one of pure chance, while others train seriously for months in order to take part in the World Poohsticks Championships, held annually (usually… if it’s not too cold, and the contestants are allowed out to play) at Day’s Lock on the River Thames near Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, England.

Wikipedia: Poohsticks Bridge in Ashdown Forest

Wikipedia: Poohsticks Bridge in Ashdown Forest

Training is vital and rigorous, and much emphasis is placed on careful diet and sleep in the lead-up to the event. Zen-like concentration is needed for stick selection, and like in the fictional Harry Potter books, many believe in real life that the poohstick selects the competitor, not the other way around.

Funds raised through the event go to help the Royal National Lifeboat Institution which is the UK’s coastal rescue service – totally funded by charity, and consuming approximately £405,000 per day!

2011′s champion was 9 year old Saffron Sollitt, and previous winners (there’s also a team event if the strain is too much to “bear” alone) can be found listed on Wikipedia.

Oh, and if you’re new to these pages: some of the above may even be true!

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, his bestest friend

Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, his bestest friend

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