After an illustrious 183-year run, the annual Whitsun cheese-rolling event on Cooper's Hill in Gloucester has been canceled, partly for safety reasons. Add "chasing cheese wheels down a steep hill" to the list of things that England has deemed unsafe.
The decision wasn't entirely about the twisted ankles and gnarled fingers of the participants, however. Organizers, it seems, gave plenty of consideration to the concerns of the landed gentry. Sayeth Richard Jeffries, of the event's organization committee:
Landowners were worried by the amount of damage done by people climbing over fences and that sort of thing.
Supporters of the event were saddened, saying they were losing "another part of our English culture to issues of crowd health and safety."
"And another thing — how come we don't throw rotten vegetables to express our dissatisfaction with minstrel shows anymore?" a stereotypical 19th century peasant asked.
The real victim in all this mess (besides the American TV news producers who will have to find some other way to fill the last two minutes of their broadcast)? Diana Smart, 83 years old, who's been the exclusive cheese provider at the event since 1988. Except for the runs in 1998, 2001, and 2003. Those were also canceled because these people cannot make up their minds.