The most fun one could have with a dead fish
THERE was outrage and sadness in a Dorset fishing town yesterday as locals mourned the death of a cherished tradition, killed off after complaints from animal rights activists.
Since time immemorial, or at least since 1974, the denizens of Lyme Regis have gathered on the harbour to indulge in the traditional sport of the conger: a game of skill and balance involving a dead eel.
In the annual finale to the town’s Lifeboat Week, nine players or “conger cuddlers”, would mount wooden blocks arrayed in a triangular formation. An opposing team of nine would take turns to swing a dead conger, suspended from a rope, and try to knock their opponents from their perches as if they were human skittles, the crowd assisting with carefully aimed buckets of sea water.
It was, by common consent, the most fun one could have with a dead fish.
Teams of firemen, powerboat racers, fishermen — all were preparing to take their chances against the swinging eel in a tournament that raises about £3,000 for the RNLI. This year, however, an anonymous animal rights activist has scuppered the event after writing to the RNLI, complaining that the event was “disrespectful” to dead animals and threatening to film it and use the footage for a nationwide campaign against conger cuddling.
Rob Michael, chairman of the Lyme Regis Lifeboat Guild, was advised by the RNLI to abandon the conger cuddling. “The RNLI is not prepared to be involved in an event that may be seen by some as a barbaric throwback,” he said.
Give me barbaric throwbacks rather than simpering aquiescence to the politically correct anyday. Shame on the RNLI.