Over now to Twickenham for the start of the second day of the International Arse Kicking Championships. Your commentators are Harry Spendlove and Carl Botulism.
Harry: Hello and welcome to Twickenham for the final day of this event, where we're expecting to be in for some truly spellbinding arse kicking.
A few facts and figures for you. During the course of last year's championships over fifteen thousand people turned up to watch somewhere in the region of 80 arses being kicked by 32 of the finest arse kickers currently kicking arse in the world today. That's quite literally almost double the number of spectators for the previous event, and a staggering improvement over the First International Arse Kicking Championships, when only three people turned out to see Brad Shufty kick an elderly gentlemen from Minnesota before running away. Very much a special moment for all us fans of the great sport of arse kicking.
This year boasts the biggest turnout yet, providing as clear an indication as any that arse kicking is at last receiving the attention it deserves. And I for one I think that's great news, don't you Carl?
Carl: Certainly do, Harry.
Harry: And rightly so, because if the blistering action we witnessed yesterday is anything to go by, there's some premium arse kicking on the menu for us today. And that's great, because, you know, in the past there have been voices of dissent. Oh yes. It has been suggested that the sport is cruel, harmful, barbaric even - but these are criticisms levelled by people who don't understand; who don't appreciate the passion that goes into this great sport.
It's about discipline. It's about technique. It is about dedication and the sheer love of kicking people less privileged than you in the pants.
And why not? Personally we believe that there is nothing finer than the sight of successful and influential people booting the living gumption out of their subordinates. Who, let's be honest, would not be moved to tears by the dull thud of size nine against cheek? Who could not fail to appreciate the majestic sounds of splintering bones and the ear-piercing shriek of a victim in pain? It brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it Carl?
Carl: I'm filling up already, Harry.
Harry: So what of Day One? Well, it kicked off in fine style with the first round of the 'Straight Kicking' event. This is the very core of arse kicking. Twelve competitors, representing various nations, take turns to kick a range of labourers, skivvies, servants, junior office staff and various other menials.
Competitors are allowed to employ only the tip of the toe, and any use of the knee, elbow or fist results in instant disqualification. Head butting is allowed, but will not result in higher marks, so that kind of showboating is usually reserved for exhibition matches.
No, what the judges will be looking for is a good, clean, precise punt delivered confidently to the target area. Poise and balance are essential for a good kicker, and an effective follow through always impresses. Extra points are awarded if the victim bursts into tears, although paralysing the 'kickee' is generally frowned upon. The idea is that the victim should be able to hobble away from the pitch unaided, isn't that right Carl?
Carl: Absolutely. This isn't the dark ages, Harry.
Harry: Exactly. Well, yesterday we were blessed with some excellent weather, and the arse kicking conditions were indeed favourable. A brief fall of rain the previous evening had left the victims moist and supple. It is especially important when kicking arses to get the right mix - too dry and the victim is brittle and unresponsive; too wet and grip can be a problem.
And so the competition soon got underway. Taking an early lead was 45-year-old Dennis 'Chips' Denny from Nebraska. Chips Denny is an auto-mechanic and, weighing in at an awesome 280 lbs, he is the perfect build for wellying some hapless poltroon up the fundament.
He takes the sport very seriously and practices for these championships all year round. When he's not kicking his pool cleaner or the man who comes to mow his lawn, he will often hike into the forest near his home and pick fights with grizzly bears. With this level of dedication, it's no wonder that he is the reigning champion. And it was no great shock that the judges picked him to go through to the final.
The other choices were more surprising. Lance Ulvasson is a 38-year-old welder from Trondheim, and has only been arse kicking professionally for six months. This is his first major competition. He puts his late start down to serving the last twenty years in prison for crimes of an unspecified nature. It was here that he first became interested in taking up the sport, mostly in an effort to exert his authority over the other residents of 'D Wing'.
Sadly, his attempts to start his own prison arse kicking league were hampered by - in his words - 'a conservative and unprogressive governor'.
Carl: Narrow-minded twat.
Harry: Absolutely. And it's because of this...
Carl: Narrow-minded Marxist twat.
Harry: Yes, it's because of him that Ulvasson's lack of experience results in a rather primitive kicking technique that shows a distinct absence of flair and control. Nevertheless, the judges were sufficiently impressed with his dedication to earmark him for the final. As one of them put it, "Ulvasson has a real love for kicking people up the arse. You only have to see the concentration on his face as he's pummelling some poor sod's rear upholstery into a broken mess. There's real malevolence in those eyes, bordering on psychosis. Given a few more years, this guy will be a major star on the arse kicking circuit."
The third choice for the final was perhaps the most contentious. Weighing in at a relatively slight 138 lbs, Damian Cork, Third Viscount of Totneshire, is not your typical arse kicker. Nevertheless, despite being only 27 years old, he has been a regular at these competitions for some years now. In fact, Cork was introduced to the sport at an early age by his father, who frequently used to maltreat the domestic staff, and who instilled in his son a proper aristocratic sense of who should do the kicking, and who should be kicked.
Cork has the very great advantage, of course, of being able to practise on his own butler. Not that he will pass up the opportunity to expand his repertoire by attacking, whenever circumstances dictate, shop assistants, waitresses, cab drivers and anyone else of lower social standing than himself.
In competition he has a reputation for letting his enthusiasm get the better of him. For example, most competitors begin their kick from a standing start, but Cork usually takes a run up. Last year he had to be dragged from the field when he set about his victim with a wooden plank, and in the ensuing struggle five of his fellow competitors were seriously injured, three spectators were hospitalised and there's a certain member of the St John Ambulance Brigade who will never play the French horn again. Cork is certainly someone who makes his presence felt, don't you think Carl?
Carl: He's a real crowd pleaser, Harry.
Harry: Amen to that, Carl. Thankfully, this year Cork has shown restraint and - despite getting rather carried away at one point and kneeing a marshal in the soft bits - he put in a marvellous display of arse kicking, and rightfully earned his place in the final.
But of course, an event like this is not just about the competition. Away from the main arena there are plenty of diversions, including souvenir stalls, face painting and a man who can play the banjo with his feet.
There was also the opportunity to catch up with some real celebrities. To fans of arse kicking, the names Boots McGurgle, Jim 'Bumboy' Tranter and Boris Crunch are household words. They may be retired from the professional circuit, but these steadfast old troupers can still crack the odd coccyx or two, and between them they entertained the crowds with some fascinating anecdotes about their arse kicking exploits.
Keen amateur arse kickers jumped at the prospect of learning a few tricks of the trade from the experts. A few lucky volunteers also had chance to take part in an arse kicking master class, and for the first and possibly only time in their lives they had the opportunity to kick a real competition-standard bottom. It was one that was not to be missed.
Carl: And very few of them did miss, Harry.
Harry: Ha ha, yes indeed! The standard was very high. Certainly a few toecaps to look out for in the future, Carl.
Now, we would be lying, of course, if we were to claim that yesterday went off without incident. It has sadly become customary at these events that a few well meaning, concerned -
Harry: That a few well meaning, concerned, public spirited -
Carl: Lefty bastards!
Harry: That a few concerned, public spirited, lefty individuals should want to stage a protest against what is, essentially, a sport which merely celebrates the natural order of society.
Carl: Give me a gun, Harry. I'll drop them where they stand.
Harry: Yesterday was no exception, and there were some angry scenes involving placards, and at one point slogans were reportedly chanted. Now, I appreciate that these people are concerned for the safety and wellbeing of the kickees, and this is commendable, it really is. But, I have to say, it's been proven scientifically that underlings don't feel pain like the rest of us.
Any doctor will tell you that the bottom region of working class people is actually more elastic than a normal person's. You only have to look at their trousers to see that. And if any further proof were needed, one should listen to the words of Kevin McDonald, himself a former kickee, who remains one of the most active and vocal ambassadors for the sport.
Kevin was here yesterday to promote his autobiography, 'Getting Kicked For Fun and Profit'. And what a quite literally fascinating life he has led. Kevin first started getting beaten up by his manager when he worked in a munitions factory in Salford. Of course, that was during the war, when times were harsh and people had to be knocked about for the good of the country.
His boss, he recalls, was a slight and ineffectual man and Kevin believes this played a large part in the man's decision to take up arse kicking. It was also, of course, the start of a glittering career for Kevin himself, who through the years has found himself on the receiving end of countless well-aimed wellies and innumerable belligerent boots.
I asked him what was the secret to being a good kickee, and he was characteristically modest. "Quite often," he told me, "it's just about being in the right place at the right time. I mean, if you were to suddenly take two steps to the right at the crucial moment, well, that would clearly be in the wrong place at the right time. On the other hand if you were at the right place but at the wrong time, such as when everybody's gone to lunch, then, you know that would be a bad thing too. Now, if you were at the wrong place at the wrong time, I think, yes, that might be bad, probably... would it?"
At that point Kevin had to go off and have a think about it.
Carl: A great man, Harry.
Harry: A very great man, Carl. You know what his motto is, don't you?
Carl: Tell us, Harry. Please tell us.
Harry: "Behind every good arse kicker is a kickee." It's written in big letters on the back cover of his book, Carl. Marvellous words. Probably should be the other way round, when you think about it, but marvellous words all the same.
You know, I was reading his book last night. It's a thick book, but there are lots of pictures. Anyhow, this one section deals with the symbiotic relationship between kicker and kickee.
Carl: Symbiotic, Harry?
Harry: That's the very word he uses, Carl. "What people forget," he writes, "is that there is a very special bond between kicker and kickee. We function as a team, anticipating each other's actions, working with each other in a truly symbiotic way. There's a real contact between us. Okay, that contact only lasts a fraction of a second, but it's very real and it hurts like hell."
And next to it is a picture of Kevin bent over a table, eyes bulging, screaming in agony. It's very artistic.
Carl: Sounds poofy, Harry.
Harry: I think it may have been ghost-written. Anyhow, the point is that this same dedication to being abused has been very much in evidence throughout the current tournament. Many of these up-and-coming kickees are natural victims and I can see some deep-seated traumas developing already.
I was particularly impressed with trainee estate agent Greg Kipling, who partnered Basher Lloyd in the first event. He held up very well against a particularly brutal attack, and his screaming as he was carried to the ambulance was first rate. He has every reason to be proud of his performance and I think he'll go on to some considerable success in the future, if he pulls through.
But I see now that the kickees are being led out of the paddock, which signifies that today's competition is about to start. Very soon Chips Denny, Lance Ulvasson and Damian Cork will emerge from the tunnel and the battle to be crowned Arse Kicker of the Year will begin in earnest. It promises to be a thrilling final, the stuff of arse kicking legend.
Let's just hope we don't get a repeat of last year when an unexpected blowback ruined the favourite's chances forever. The crowd falls silent now as the contenders appear and one thing is clear: if this year's exciting contest lives up to expectations then, regardless of the outcome, the very real winner is going to be the sport of Arse Kicking itself.