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WORLD NEWS

Black pudding chucker charged

By crime editor Dick Rampant

Posted September 25, 2012
black pudding scottish breakfast
Scots brekkie: Black pudding nestling between eggs, bacon and beans. (Check bottom for credit)

A 47-year-old man has appeared in a Scottish court charged with aggressively throwing a black pudding.


STV reports that Bradley Davidson appeared in Perth Sheriff Court this past Thursday following a May 13 incident that allegedly saw him throwing a black pudding across a room in his Perth flat.

While we do not profess to being experts in the intricacies of Scottish law, we do not believe it is actually a crime in the land of Braveheart and Robert the Bruce to throw a black pudding across a room per se.

However, it would appear that throwing one while behaving "in a threatening or abusive manner which was likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear and alarm", as the BBC has him down as being charged, is a potential transgression of Scots law.

To be honest, we have no idea what did or did not go on in that flat back in May, but it is also alleged that Davidson kicked a 10-year-old girl on the leg and booted a door, causing some glass to break.

Whether the incidents, if they happened, were related is not clear.

Either way, provided we've understood the reports correctly, Davidson denies the charges and will now go before the beak this coming October 16.


DEATH BY LAUGHTER
Whether Davidson did indeed deploy any such savoury foodstuff in the manner claimed is something that remains to be proven.

Certainly, though, the notion of weaponising a black pudding and using it in anger is nothing new.

In 1975, for example, an episode of the BBC comedy show The Goodies entitled Kung Fu Kapers featured subsequent TV twitcher Bill Oddie showing off his prowess as a practitioner of the ancient Lancastrian martial art of Ecky-Thump, which basically consists of hitting people with a black pudding while wearing a flat cap and speaking in a Lancastrian accent.

Weirdly enough, in this instance the black pudding arguably proved lethal, with one viewer by the name of Alex Mitchell literally laughing himself to death.

According to the excellent Snopes.com, a website dedicated to establishing the veracity of urban myths and the like, Mitchell, a 50-year-old bricklayer from Norfolk, UK, "kicked the bucket while roaring with laughter" after watching a kilted Scotsman on the show "flailing away with his bagpipe[s] at a vicious black pudding intent upon attacking him".

Mitchell, who is now believed to have suffered from a rare heart condition known as Long QT syndrome, apparently spent a good 25 minutes laughing uncontrollably before, in his wife Nessie's words, he "gave a tremendous belly laugh, slumped on the sofa and died"1.

In a commendable and touching move, Nessie, the Torygraph reports, "later sent a letter to the Goodies thanking them for making her husband's final moments so happy".



World Black Pudding Throwing Championship Ramsbottom Lancashire RIP Alex Mitchell
Ramsbottom 2007: Note the Yorkshire puds on the right. (Check bottom for credit)

LANCASHIRE'S LEGAL LAUNCHINGS
Clearly, the power of the black pudding should not be underestimated and we advise readers to bear this in mind should they find themselves in the town of Ramsbottom.

Historically part of Lancashire but now within the Metropolitan Borough of Bury in Greater Manchester, Ramsbottom is not only subject to English rather than Scottish law, but each year also plays host to the World Black Pudding Throwing Championship.

Steeped in the longstanding rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire that dates back at least to the War of the Roses (1455-85)2, the World Black Pudding Throwing Championship sees competitors chucking a salvo of three 6 oz (0.2 kg) black puddings at an array of 12 Yorkshire puddings sitting atop a platform either 25' (7.6 m) or 20' off the ground depending on which news organ you read.

One thing that they all seem to agree on, however, is that the platform in question is located outside the town's Royal Oak pub.

After coughing up their one-nicker entry fee, competitors must launch their projectiles using an underarm technique in a bid to see who can dislodge the highest number of Yorkshires in one sitting.

This sounds easier than it probably is, given that the record total achieved during the event's 20-year history is 10.

The last Championship was staged over five hours this past September 9 and was ultimately won by 65-year-old Alan Cunliffe of Greenmount, Bury, whose impromptu début performance resulted in the downing of six Yorkshires.

"I have recently retired but I don't think I'll be becoming a professional black pudding thrower," Cunliffe is quoted by the Manchester Evening News as saying.

"I suppose I'll have to come back next year and defend my crown but I think this time it was very much a case of beginner's luck."

Given the difference between English law and Scottish law, it is unlikely that any ruling in the forthcoming Davidson case will automatically put a stop to the World Black Pudding Throwing Championship.

Mind you, given all this namby-pamby health and safety cobblers sweeping the globe, don't be surprised if some pencil-pusher in Brussels or Whitehall tries banning it.

After all, as the Mitchell case proves, having a laugh can be detrimental to health and we can't be having that now, can we?


DAVIDSON CASE UPDATE: CHARGES DROPPED



All charges against Bradley Davidson were dropped when he appeared for trial, or so the BBC reckons anyway.

What happened to the black pudding has not been divulged, although as it's now a piece of legal history, I'd give it to a museum.

Or a café.

Maybe both.


Footnotes

1) At the other end of the equation, Seema Bakewell went into labour after laughing at the 1977 showing of a Goodies' episode entitled Alternative Roots. According to Goodies member Graeme Garden, she "refused to leave home until the programme finished".

2) The War of the Roses saw the two neighbouring North Country counties clobbering it out for control of the English crown. In the end, the red rose of Lancashire beat the white rose of Yorkshire and resulted in the Tudor dynasty taking over the thrown from the Plantagenets. The decisive Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, by the way, is popularly held to have inspired that For Want of a Nail poemy proverb thing, although some people probably refute this.


Picture credits

Top and thumb: A Scottish breakfast consisting of fried eggs, mushrooms, beans, haggis, black pudding, bacon and lorne sausage by Jeremy Keith.

Bottom: The 2007 World Black Pudding Throwing Championship in Ramsbottom by Paul Anderson.

For licensing information click the above links.



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