This morning – sipping coffee in Cafe Beva – I heard he’d died. News came via text message from my younger son.
It’s about 13 years since I’ve seen Binkie.
I didn’t cry. He’d have taken the piss out of me if I had.
He lived on the edge
all his life – aware he could be dead before he finished his latest project (or so I imagined ever since we knew each other in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire, UK.)
No one’s a perfect fit to deliver the oration in memory of Binkie – he had so many sides. But I wish, I wish I could be there to stand in honour of his presence. (He never entered a room without making an impact.)
It’s fitting that this is the first prose piece I’ve written on this blog.
Binkie Braithwaite funniest inventor I ever met.
He invented Gut Barging. None of you have ever heard of gut barging – but many have in Japan, UK & North America (many “mad raving fans”).
There was much more to Binkie than Gut Barging. He was an arch conversationalist, centre-wing stand-up comic, beard-grower and a host of other spirits.
No one’s ever met another Binkie – a true snowflake.
Let us celebrate the Life of Binkie (I’m not sure when this movie will go on general release.)
Thank you Binkie
for all the smiles you brought into my life every time I was in your company, and every time you dwelled in my memory & imagination.
World class media reports
on success of the sport Binkie invented/revived from Sumo.
(1) The Sport of Belly Jousting (2001 by Wertperch)
“…a contest of skill and controlled violence…” – Binkie Braithwaite, The Independent
Honestly, I couldn’t have made this up. This is one of those sports which seem unbelievable, made up for April Fools’ Day. Imagine two ahem large people in a ring, using only their ample middles to oust their opponent – it seems too far-fetched for words. The truth, however is stranger than the fiction would have been.
According to Binkie Braithwaite, founder of the World Gutbargers’ Association, it is “…borrowing from the traditions of Japanese Sumo. Basically it gives fat, drunken people the opportunity to excel…” Some have tried to place the origins in mediæval jousting tournament sideshows, but there can be no doubt that it is growing in popularity in this 21st century.
The rules seem to be quite straightforward. The two combatants, stripped to the waist (male or female – there are no barriers here) face each other across a mat twelve feet by eight, and with bellies well oiled, attempt to force one another off the mat using only their gut. There are a number of moves which attract points. Two of the more colourful are the Full Johnny Turk (a single thrusting blow which propels the victim off the mat) and the Shunt or Full Blubber (a full-strength push over the line), each of which scores 15 Points. No contact is permitted other than the belly – arms are held out at the sides for balance, but no wrestling is involved.
The sport is taken semi-seriously by the athletes, the first championships being held in Trowbridge in 1988. Scotland seems to like the sport, and it has made its way into some Highland Games events, although perhaps viewed as less traditional than tossing the caber. Australia too, has organised events. ‘Binkie’ has even been called on to organise an event at the Royal Albert Hall, as part of the support for The Stranglers 20th anniversary gig.
There are already traditions, borrowed, as might be expected, from sumo wrestling. The combatants hurl Bombay mix (a spicy snack food) into the ‘ring’, face up and shout insults at one another, before being told to prepare for battle, with a cry of ‘Guts Up’ by the Balou (referee). At this point, the contestants adopt a position of readiness, their knees bent, shoulders back and guts out. On the command ‘Meet’ the contest begins, they meet in a cataclysm of blubber, grease and sweat, before one is hurled from the ring in disgrace. At least it is more exciting than darts.
(2) Games: On the trail of the abdominal showmen
From the pages of `The Independent’ to the stage of the Albert Hall, Binkie Braithwaite – `the Gutfather’ – explains the finer points of Barging to William Hartston in 2011.
“Fourteen months is a long time in Gut Barging. Just over a year ago, few of us had heard of this ancient British recreation, but yesterday night it completed a remarkable return to prominence with its first high- profile international contest, “The Brawl in the Hall”, which formed a weighty part of the 21st anniversary concert of The Stranglers at the Royal Albert Hall… (read a lot more here and gut barging Royal Albert Hall)
gut barging (uncountable)
- (Britain) A sport (or slightly mock sport) in which two men with big fat guts (ie. their bellies) try to push each other off a mat, pushing only with their guts.