Sunday, August 27, 2006

Live Coverage of the Pig Tickling from Durban

Well, when I say "live", it's really delayed coverage, but broadcast "as live" due to the time-lag involved in bringing the footage back from South Africa by tramp steamer. It's a report from our Friday night game of Pig Tickler. So without further ado, it's over to our correspondent in Natal, Kass Naidoo:

Thanks, Carlos. Welcome to Kingsmead Stadium in Durban, for the finals of the 1902 Pig Tickling Test Series.

A lovely aerial view of the stadium there, from our dirigible circling the ground.

We have a packed crowd of supporters here today. This will make quite a change for them from the usual cricket matches staged here, which sadly had to be cancelled, due to the entire first XI, er, copping it at Spion Kop. I see the Gentlemen and Players are coming out, so let's introduce them:
Firstly we have Captain Armitage Barker-Poles of the Natal Cycle Contingent. Having left England in shame after being cuckolded by the Prince of Wales he has thrown himself into the sporting life with gusto, and has become an accomplished tickler.

Next we have Sir Robert Bathing-Towel of the Mafeking Velocipede Fencibles. Notable for his gallant defence of the famous siege, where with only one six of Cubs from the Barking and Dagenham District Scouts he held off Johnny Boer for over seven years until relieved. Many decorations were awarded to his brave troops, including Home Help, Book Reader, Road Safety and World Faiths activity badges.

Then it's, how can I put this... an American. And worse than that he's not a Gentleman, but a Player. Professionalism in the great sport of Pig Tickling? What is the world coming to? Anyway, please welcome Lloyd Flandis, current holder of Le Maillot Jaune, who has taken time out from the Tour d'Afrique to be with us today. Progress in the tour has been suspended after an amazing come-back ride on the Col de Kilimanjaro stage seemed just too good to be true. The finest minds in France, including all the top alchemists, cryptographers and Hieromancers are currently busy analysing his wee-wee for evidence of cheating. Will he still wear the Yellow Jersey by the end of the day?
Who knows? And frankly, only the French care.

Here we see Lloyd in the splendid uniform of his team, Discoverer's Quarterly (formerly Pony Express).

Finally we have Doctor Esteban Immaturin of the Queen's Own Boil Lancers (R.A.M.C.). Formerly of HMS Facetious, and a proper physician (no barber-surgeon he), Immaturin brings a surgical precision to the game, but his strong views on Home Rule for Ireland, compulsory trepanning in schools and the revision of the pig-before-wicket rule have meant that his sporting career has been dogged with controversy.

Our Umpire for today is Mr. Harold Dair. Having fled England under a cloud and beaten the mail to South Africa, nobody has yet realised he is currently suspended. He is at the centre of the Swine-Tampering Row that is sweeping the World of Pig-Tickling, after accusing the touring Baluchistan and Sindh team of shining one side of the pig while illegally damaging the other in the final Test at the Oval.

The Pig itself (Russian Sevastopol '54 clockwork model, updated to run on steam) and our stokers for today, the veteran and ever-popular Punjabi Pete and Hindu Stan.

The game gets underway...

Three of the Cyclists circle the pig cautiously around Short Mid Off, while Flandis rides in from Midwicket.

"Cover-Drive" Smythe gazes on with mounting alarm and dismay, as he sees the damage the pig is doing to the wicket.

The pig hurtles towards the Long On boundary, with the cyclists in hot pursuit.

Down at Fine Leg, Umpire Dair falls back into his old bad habits. The proximity of someone with brown skin once again compels him to start bandying about random accusations of cheating at anyone within range. Here we see Immaturin falling foul of his mischief.

Oh my goodness! We appear to have a streaker on the pitch! What fun!
Don't look Ethel! I mean Miss Naidoo!

The crowd seem to be enjoying this minor interruption.

After several hours play, Immaturin was declared the winner with an unprecedented six gold rumps his score. His surgical precision had indeed proved decisive. Flandis had fled the field in panic the first time the pig came at him, and little of note was achieved by the other two. The Tompkins Minor rule was invoked, so Flandis' substitute was allowed on to the playing area, and he acquitted himself well. Unfortunately the match ended on a sour note when, once again Umpire Dair accused Immaturin of pig, dice, and even (Heaven forfend!) stoker tampering*.

*Methinks there was something in this, as Immaturin's player rolled high with his dice at just about every turn! Grrr... Sour grapes, indeed!

  • Dr. Esteban Immaturin.........................................6 Rumps
  • SeƱor Miguel In-the-Rain (sub).............................2 Rumps
  • Captain Armitage Barker-Poles..............................1 Rump
  • Sir Robert Bathing-Towel.......................................0 Rumps
  • Mr. Lloyd Flandis...................................................Retired "Hurt"

To round things off, Miss Naidoo interviews the winning rider.

He is then presented with a giant novelty cheque for five shillings and sixpence, by representitives of our sponsors, local firm of solicitors; Smuts, Smuts, Dabulamanzi and Smuts. Being a Gentleman, the good doctor of course refuses any payment, insisting that instead the money go to his own charitable foundation to care for the needs of the fallen women of the Ladysmith district.

As there's much daylight left to be had, for the benefit of the crowd the players agree to play a second, unofficial rubber. Flandis has by now recovered his nerve, and after a swift drink of some unidentified tincture, is back to his best. So much so that he cleans up and wins the match handsomely.


So, the game: This was our first go at Pig Tickler, in which our unicycling heroes have to score points by lancing a mechanical pig, while avoiding being savaged by it, and trying to persuade the stokers to fling hot coals at their rivals to put them off their aim. We had buckets of fun and the game was played in a joyous (and very silly) atmosphere. I think everybody had a good time. Not sure I'd want to play it every week, but it was a nice amusing diversion from the usual death and mayhem.

We introduced two new rules of our own. The first was "No riding on the wicket" at the insistance of "Cover-Drive" Smythe. This basically meant that unless the pig was on the wicket, riders were not allowed to ride across it, to protect the playing surface. This had the effect of introducing a barrier in the centre of the field that riders would sometimes need to manuever around in order to have a stab at the pig. The second was "Don't look, Ethel!" or the Streaker, who basically just acted as a mobile obstacle that had to be negociated, and could be moved instead of the stokers if the player desired.

The game is produced by Eureka Miniatures of Australia as part of their Pax Limpopo range. I got my copy from the U.K. supplier Fighting 15s.

Finally, thanks to TMPer Matakishi, for it was his article on the game (and the pictures of his painted figures) that piqued my interest in Pig Tickler, even though I already knew about it. His website is well worth a visit, as there's always something there to inspire lazy oafs like me off their backsides and into some hobby-related activity.

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