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Black Monk

Coventry man wins World Gurning Championships

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The World Gurning Championships in Cumbria has been won by a 50-year-old from Coventry for the second year.

The competition is part of the 750-year-old Egremont Crab Fair and attracted about 50 contestants in the men's, women's and junior sections.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-41299102

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Thanks for teaching a new term!  I never knew there was a word for "pulling a strange face" :) 

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This has puzzled me for a long time:

What is the thing the gurners hold, and why is it there?  ie: What is the origin of it all.

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He's gurning?

I just thought everyone from the West Midlands looked like that! :o

*sneaks off before acute notices*

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1 hour ago, acute said:

This has puzzled me for a long time:

What is the thing the gurners hold, and why is it there?  ie: What is the origin of it all.

A gurn or chuck, in British English, is a distorted facial expression, and a verb to describe the action. The American English equivalent is "making a face".

Gurning contests are a rural English tradition. By far the most notable is that held annually at the Egremont Crab Fair, which dates back to 1267 when King Henry III granted the fair a Royal Charter.[2] The origins of the gurning competition itself are unclear, and may not be so old, although it was described as an ancient tradition by local newspaper the Cumberland Paquet in 1852.[3]

The competitions are held regularly in some villages, with contestants traditionally framing their faces through a horse collar — known as "gurnin' through a braffin."[4] The World Gurning Championship takes place annually at the same crab fair in Egremont, Cumbria.[5] Those with the greatest gurn capabilities are often those with no teeth, as this provides greater room to move the jaw further up. In some cases, the elderly or otherwise toothless can be capable of gurns covering the entire nose.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurn

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, acute said:

This has puzzled me for a long time:

What is the thing the gurners hold, and why is it there?  ie: What is the origin of it all.

Egremont Crab Fair - History

"To gurn means to 'snarl like a dog, look savage, distort the countenance'. This competition is extremely popular and is the highlight of the whole Crab Fair for most people. Contestants have to pull a grotesque face through a horse collar, known as a braffin.

Through the centuries the event has been reported by newspapers under various titles. In 1852 it was described as Grinn for tobacco, in 1884 it was more colloquially known as Grinning for 'bacca. In the twentieth century it became Gurning through a braffin and is now known as the World Gurning Competition.

The origin of gurning is obscure. It is reported to have originated from the mockery of the village idiot - the townsfolk would throw a horse's collar over him and make him pull funny faces in exchange for a few pints of ale. How much truth lies in this story is questionable. Another stories include when a drunken farmer arrived home to find a most discontented wife, he shouted "stop gurning, woman!" and thrust a horse collar over her head. At this her facial expressions, to say nothing of the language, became even worse!"

I love some of these events. You can see where Monty Python got much of their inspiration :lol:

The greasy pole

"A typical Crab Fair in the nineteenth century would begin at dawn with the erection of the greasy pole "at the fish stone by the Market Cross". The pole was thirty foot tall and greased with lard. The objective was to climb to the top and retrieve the prize. Originally the prize was a hat, probably a top hat. The winner, normally an agile youth, paraded around the town wearing his prize. In 1852 the prize became a side of mutton which, if not won by the end of the day, was cut up and divided amongst the poor. The tradition continues to this day, and in addition to the main prize, ribbons are now attached to the pole which can be grabbed from lower levels and exchanged for gifts in the town."

"Pipe Smoking

Each competitor is given a clay pipe filled with black twist tobacco and a lighted candle or taper. The person who smokes his tobacco in the quickest time is the winner.

Eating Biskeys and Treacle

This was a popular competition a hundred years ago but the event is no longer held. Biskeys are teacakes, and these were soaked in treacle. The winner was the first competitor to whistle a tune as soon as he had gobbled up the biskey and treacle. On one occasion, when the excitement was at its height, an exuberant spectator grabbed the large bowl of treacle and turned it upside down over the head of one of the officials, covering him from head to foot with treacle. One can only speculate as to whether this is the reason that the event is no longer held.

Dialect Singing

This involves singing hunting, comic or sentimental songs in the local West Cumbrian dialect."

Edited by LV-426
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So proud of Dad.

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How many pints are consumed first?

I'm going to forward this to a "Blighty Boy" buddy that runs our plant in SC for his comments.

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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, LV-426 said:

He's gurning?

I just thought everyone from the West Midlands looked like that! :o

*sneaks off before acute notices*

Definitely Black Country faces!  :tsu:

Fortunately, the Black Country is the other side of The Wall from Birmingham (where the beautiful people live) .

Edited by acute
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Posted (edited)

6 hours ago, Black Monk said:

The competitions are held regularly in some villages, with contestants traditionally framing their faces through a horse collar — known as "gurnin' through a braffin."

Ah! Mystery solved!  Thank you.

Edited by acute
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