I watch in horror as the heavy piece of rubber hurtles skyward, completely off course and heading straight for a family of four. There’s a mum, a dad a toddler and a baby in a pram. Thankfully – and I use that term in the loosest possible sense – dad feels the full force of the welly. This gloriously sunny Sunday is not going well, I think to myself. And this is only the first 30 minutes. I’m manning the stall for three hours. Three hours. But surely that’s the worst thing that can happen on the welly-wanging stall isn’t it?
I do a lot of volunteering in my village, partly to keep myself active, partly to feel part of the community and partly to keep my CV looking relatively healthy (some people don’t see ‘stay-at-home-dad’ as a worthwhile usage of time – they think we sit around all day playing PS4, when in actual fact we spend all our time writing articles that overuse the word ‘partly’ for our world-famous blogs *cough cough*). One of the groups I help out with is the local PTA.
I helped them run a Minion-themed night a few weeks back. There were over a hundred kids. Then we put minions in the room. Then we gave the kids pop and sweets.
I’m still having nightmares about that one
Kind-heartedly – or foolishly, you decide – I offered to help them out again at the summer fair. A yearly event involving inflatable castles, face painting, tombolas and lots of confusing games. They all cost either 50p or £1. That’s generally the upper limit for a school gala. Anything costing more than that is frowned upon.
I’m asked to man the ‘welly-wanging’ stall, and nod my head in agreement. ‘That’ll be a doddle’ I think to myself. ‘After all they do it every year’.
‘We’ve never done this before’ says the head of the PTA to me, on the aforementioned gloriously sunny Sunday, as he ambles past. ‘Good luck’. I set up my stall and mark out the ‘target area’, thinking as I do that it’s rather close – some might say dangerously so – to the football stall next to it. After I’ve marked out the target zone I set out my wellies, or wellington boots, there’s three different sizes, for the three different age-ranges we have. So small ones for the 3-7 year-old bracket, medium for the 7-11-year-old bracket, and really heavy ones for the ‘adult’ bracket.
I then look at the prizes. The youngsters get a toy tractor, the middle kids get a box of chocolates, and the 11 and over category get a bottle of wine. I point out that this means in theory we can have a 12-year-old walking away from a school fair with the top prize of alcohol in their hands.
The PTA hastily agrees that we should ‘Contact the parent of the winning thrower, and make sure they accept it’.
Before I continue I should probably give you some information about the wild and crazy world of wellies, and indeed welly wanging.
Here’s a welly:
Want to know what welly-wanging actually is? Here’s some info from Wikipedia:
Welly wanging is a sport that originated in Britain in Upperthong, Holmfirth. Competitors are required to hurl a Wellington boot as far as possible within boundary lines, from a standing or running start. A variation requires participants to launch the welly from the end of their foot as if they were kicking off a pair of shoes. The high level of competition has led to precise, highly regulated rules for the sport. The sport is regulated and administered by the World Welly Wanging Association, based in Upperthong
They must have been really, really bored one day to have come up with this ‘sport’.
I open for business at 1pm prompt and, at first, think I’m in for a quiet day. People stroll up, look at me, look at my wellies, smile somewhat pityingly and then carry on to the hook-a-duck stall instead.
But things soon pick up. I’ve got an assistant you see, a ten-year=old lad from the school who loves drumming up business. ‘COME AND WANG A WELLY’ he shouts. And when that doesn’t work he effectively encourages/bullies his school friends into having a go. We soon start cashing in, especially with our attractive price – 50p a go.
Things go wrong when the adults get involved.
The kids, in either category, are limited by their development. The adults have no such limitations. Some truly monstrous looking men begin having a go at hurling the wellies as far as they can, and any fears I had of a 12-year-old walking away with the wine are soon put to rest. No 12-year-old has a hope against some of these man mountains.
It’s one of these behemoths who hits the daddy and his family. But daddy’s ok, he laughs it off. But I’m worried, more for the kid in the pram than anything. ‘This wasn’t on the risk assessment’, I think to myself. ‘These people are too close to the stall, it’s a health and safety nightmare’.
The headmaster passes me by and stops for a chat. ‘Everything ok?’ he asks me. ‘Not really’ I say to him, ‘These people are too close to the stall, it’s a health and safety nightmare’. He nods his head, ‘Yeah, we should have covered that on the risk assessment’, then he ambles off.
The next victim is a young chap, he’s chilled out, enjoying the sun with his friends. This enjoyment soon ends when a size 10 welly smacks him straight in the face. We’re lucky though, he’s 13 and brushes it off, saving the bragging rights for later.
Another adult strolls up, he’s not muscly, but you can tell he’s got power. He’s just got that ‘coiled spring’ look about him. He takes a run up, winds his arm back ‘This one’s a winner’ I think to myself. Then the welly disappears. Backwards. He’s thrown it 20-feet behind him, nearly taking out the entire dance class that’s scheduled to perform within the next hour. ‘It can’t get worse than this can it’ I say, to no-one in particular, looking off into the middle distance, wondering if I could just walk off and leave my stall….
The worst thing then happens.
A mum and her three kids roll up at the stall, they look like they’re having fun, and they’ve clearly made the effort for the fancy dress competition. Mummy is dressed as one of the Pink ladies from Grease, son is Buzz Lightyear and daughter is generic Disney Princess. They look like they want to ‘have a wang’. So does the 11-year-old next to them. But he’s already paid so he has first dibs. He takes a run up and, WANG!
The welly doesn’t even get over the starting line. No, it promptly takes a 90-degree left-turn straight into little miss generic Disney Princess’ face. The tears are immediate and the cries are loud. Mum looks at me, I apologise profusely. ‘It’s alright’ she says to me, ‘I think she’s just a bit tired’. I look at the little girl, who now has the imprint of a size 8 wellington boot on her face and think to myself ‘Yes, it’s definitely fatigue, not concussion’.
It’s late, I’ve had enough and so I pack up the stall and head off towards the exit, pausing as I do to drop the money off with one of the PTA ladies. ‘Same time next year?’ she says to me jovially. ‘Next year’ I say to her ‘I’m doing the hook-a-duck stall’.