Gotta love those Brits!

naked rambler
The naked rambler. (Click picture to enlarge)

Laughing out loud

The British have an unparalled sense of eccentricity and humor. If they didn't exist, we'd have to invent them, probably as a Monty Python episode.

naked rambler
Freedom is on the march (Click picture to enlarge)

Take the Naked Rambler, for instance. Here's a middle-aged, former Royal Marine who spent five months walking the length of Britain wearing nothing but his boots.

Now, Stephen Gough intends to do it all again, this time with his girl friend, Melanie Roberts, a 33-year-old hairdresser. Perhaps she can help him maintain a more kempt appearance this time.

Says Gough, "I have no intent to harm. I'm just going to walk from Land's End to John O'Groats."

nettle eating contest
World nettle eating contest (Click picture to enlarge)

And then there's the World Nettle Eating Contest. This annual event consists of hardy souls who gather to see who can eat the tallest nettle. The contest takes place Saturday at the Bottle Inn in Dorset.

Of course, there's a story behind the contest, having something to do with a manly boast. Originally, the contest was simply to see who could bring in the longest stinging nettle. A local hospital porter and Ex Guardsman, Alex Williams entered a stinging nettles 15’6” long and said, “If anybody beats that – I’ll eat it!” Wouldn't you know, the next year an American — cheeky colonists — brought in a longer one, and Williams kept his word, thereby giving the contest its present form.

Mike Luckovich cartoon
Mike Luckovich, 1-Jun-05 (Click image to enlarge)

Let's not forget the Royal Family. On the one hand, the royal family serves as useful function. As head of state, the queen focuses the instincts for pomp and circumstance, allowing the head of government, the prime minister, to focus on running the government. We combine both these functions in the office of the president, and I think the constant playing of Ruffles and Flourishes and Hail to the Chief contributes to the tendency of our presidents to think of themselves as absolute monarchs.

On the other hand, our lives would be impoverished without the spectacle of the dysfunctional royal family and their escapades, marriages, infidelities, and divorces. And their unerring sense of un-fashion provides a constant reminder of what "dowdy" and "sturdy walking shoes" mean. Charles and Camilla, those middle-aged lovebirds, supply grist for the humor mill on both sides of the Atlantic.