Sunday, 7 August 2016

Bran Tub # 2: the Olympics …



I wasn’t going to write on the Brazilian Olympics or ParaOlympics … I wrote fairly comprehensively on the London Games in 2012 …



… but as the Bran Tub is out and about … a few snippets or fun ideas won’t go amiss .. I cheated here – not quite plagiarising – but utilising a little book entitled “The Olympics A Very Peculiar History” …


The Hippodrome – was found by German archaeologists in 2008 … they’ve been excavating the site at Olympia since 1875 … but it’s appropriately called by the Greeks: as the site was submerged under deep flood waters long ago – hippos could have thrived.



However the chariot races were started in 680BC and were for horses … not hippos … but you’ll be glad to know that the charioteers were not expected to perform naked like the athletes!





The Stadium at Nemea - a Hippodrome

On diet and general well-being … the Greek philosopher Epictetus advised that anyone wanting to win an Olympic prize: Will have to

  •  obey instructions
  • eat according to regulations
  • keep away from desserts
  • exercise on a fixed schedule at definite hours, in both heat and cold




An illustration
of  Epictetus

... but certainly do not eat a full meal before the 10,000 metres - the King of the Belgians wanted to visit an art exhibition after giving out the prizes - so they brought the race forward over 3 hours!  


No-one told the French runner Joseph Guillemot ... and yes the worst happened at the end of the race in Antwerp 1920 ... as he, having come second, was congratulating the Finnish athlete - the great Paavo Nurmi ... disaster struck!




A Man’s World: Pierre de Coubertin, the French founder of the modern games, was an intelligent and thoughtful character, but his views on women in sport matched the Greek view in ancient times:  They had grace and beauty (that applies) … but they lacked both strength and the competitive spirit … something’s changed here!


London 1908
Britain has had three Olympics – 1908, 1948 and 2012 … in 1908 they were meant to be in Rome, but Vesuvius erupted …


Horrifyingly in 1908 (perhaps not horrifyingly … but pretty odd) the catering contract was awarded to Oxo (the meat extract company) which provided refreshments along the route … 

  • not only bananas, raisins and milk
  • but rice pudding, hot and cold Oxo, and 
  • last but not least … ‘Oxo and Soda’ – yugh!




In black and white -
austerity reigned
We hosted the 1948 Games – the austerity or ‘Spartan’ Games … with food and clothing severely rationed in Britain, visiting athletes were expected to bring their own grub!  I did see that one – on my father’s back as the Marathon men ran past our house!


I had not realised these were televised … which as the book says would have been more of a landmark had more than a handful of people owned a tv set.




A cook in 15th or 16th Europe


No doubt there will be lots of fun times, a few records broken, some national triumphs and a few characters being found …



… finally to tie it all up with food the first Olympic champion was a cook, Coroebus of Elis, who won the sprint race in 776 BC.



Enjoy the Games – should you be interested!


"The Olympics A Very Peculiar History with added Medals" - by David Arscott


PS re Oxo:  Oxo is a meat extract … its history is in Wiki, but it became the first stock cube in the early 1900s.  Oxo, Odol mouthwash and Indian Foot Powder .... were sponsors of the London 1908 Olympics ...


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

46 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

Oxo's refreshments have me shuddering.
There will undoubtedly be some triumphs and some tragedies for those who are watching. I will see snippets, but won't be in it for the long haul - though my heart aches for the French athlete who broke his leg in competition today. Such a painful and conclusive end to all his hard work.

Anabel Marsh said...

Re women's role, or lack of it, in the Games I read yesterday (and have now forgotten where) that at the beginning of the 20C women organised their own Olympics in protest at being excluded from most sports. I think there were four.

Bob Scotney said...

Fascinating snippets of information especially the extract on OXO - or rather the extract of OXO>

Out on the prairie said...

The opening ceremony was elite as usual.i was glued to all the dance.

Jo said...

Oxo, unbelievable. I can't imagine it. I remember the '48 games slightly too but not by much. You didn't say but of course Hippo means horse in Greek. I assume you knew that. Having visited Delphi they have a sports arena there although I never heard it referred to as a hippodrome. Maybe they never held Olympics there. I wonder why the athletes were unclothed but the charioteers were not?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

An elite few got to enjoy those games in 1948.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - Oxo ... was good I used to use, til I got wise ... or others got wise and put me right. Whichever way -this was interesting to read about.

I won't be in it for the long haul either - I shall bits and bobs ... but I didn't hear about the French gymnast yesterday, til you mentioned it - yes there's one chance and that's it ... still he did get to be an Olympian .. some don't even make it to the Games ...

@ Anabel - yes you're right ... it was held in Paris in 1922 - more details in Wiki - (1922 Women's World Games). When the men were at War in WW1 - the women formed recreational teams - eg for football - but were banished at the end of the War ... and lost their jobs ... they couldn't use the sportsfields?!

Cricket too was held - a match over 2 days in 1900 ... mostly British players, but against a team of British expats in Paris. Again it's in Wiki - (Cricket at the 1900 Summer Olympics).

@ Bob - yes I thought the Oxo entry would amuse everyone ...

@ Steve - I saw some very brief highlights of the Opening Ceremony ... so need to check out the dance ...

@ Jo - I know ... there are 6 Greek hippodromes ... one is at Delphi ... but the main one is the Olympian one. Things change in 2,600 years ... names and connotations of things ... the charioteers would have been quite grateful, I suspect, to have some protection for their nether regions when the race was a rough ride. One of the reasons for setting up the Games was to show the body off - hence the nakedness of entrants ... mind you most bodies would be ok - the spectators definitely not such a good idea!

@ Alex - the entrants in 1948 had to pay for everything themselves ... pretty dire accommodation too (nissan huts!) ... the food would have been ok -if they'd remembered to bring their own ...

Thanks everyone - it's great to have the extra thoughts ... Hilary

Inger said...

I remember Paavo Nurmi, he was a great hero in the Nordic countries as I was growing up.So what happened to the poor Frenchman? I love all the facts you have gathered here. What a great researcher you are and how fun it is to come here and learn new and interesting things.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Eating properly, avoiding desserts and training to a schedule sounds were much like athletes train now. I think I'll stay away from the cold OXO though - yuck!

Botanist said...

Interesting collection of facts as usual, Hilary. I just hope the games can overcome the bad publicity going on for weeks now about conditions in Rio. The Olympics as a whole seems to have drifted far away from the ideals of amateur competition.

Paula Kaye said...

We will spend time here watching the games. One of our favorite summer pasttimes!

Rhonda Albom said...

I love the Olympics. Some fun facts here, but a good giggle at the idea of hippos pulling chariots.

Truedessa said...

This was a very interesting post filled with tidbits of wonder. You always put so much effort into your posts. I am sure readers appreciate your labor of love.

Joanne said...

always interesting. Just watched a young UK fellow win a swimming gold. Good job - the kid is fast. I root for everyone - they are all so amazing and have worked so hard. Have a great week!

Denise Covey said...

Hey Hilary, thanks for this history of the Games. How things have changed, from the diet (whoa that's such a big thing with athletes today.) But with the way the world has changed, with the terror threat and the widespread drug cheating, plus holding the games in a city where people are being attacked by criminals, I wonder if it's time to draw the curtain?

Denise :-)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Poor Joseph Guillemot!
Gotta give him credit for finishing the race despite the royal whims of kings and the dire consequences of digestion without the adequate recovery time.

Vallypee said...

It's terrible, Hilary, but I didn't even know the Olympics were on! I've been so busy with boat painting since I came back from our travels. This is such an interesting post! I never even thought of Hippos in connection with the Hippodrome...haha! That Oxo diet sounds too awful!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Inger – I hadn’t looked up Paavo Nurmi – he set some amazing standards and was forward thinking. I remember his name though – as I took an interest in the Olympics when I was growing up.

The poor French gymnast fell and badly broke his leg … then yesterday a Dutch cyclist had a very nasty fall on the downward approach at the end of the long-distance ride … the gutter was very sharp with hard posts holding the fencing … the road was very narrow – the experts deemed it ‘looking for danger’ … some men had also fallen.

@ Annalisa – not much difference in eating properly – just suspect there’s more fruit and salad now, as well as better constituents … cold Oxo is a No – No … that we can agree on.

@ Ian – thanks … I expect more of the conditions will appear … in fact they already are. Lots of kit has been stolen I gather …

To me – it’s too big … and lots of other challenges – as you mention :amateur or not …

@ Paula – I can imagine lots of families will be happily watching …

@ Rhonda – yes I too love the Olympics … it was the nakedness that had me laughing … but the hippos – would definitely make it more fun?!

@ Truedessa – thanks so much … I’m happy you enjoy reading …

@ Joanne – yes in the midnight hours (probably later than that) Adam Peaty won gold – he’s an incredible talent and so down to earth. I too admire the dedication and hard work they take to actually qualify as an Olympian, let alone the determination to get a medal …

@ Denise – haven’t things changed … mind you they’ve changed since I worked with the British Team back in 1972. I think it’s got too big … but I doubt it’ll stop for now – unless something totally disastrous happens … let’s hope not.

@ Dianne – yes poor Joseph Guillemot … he was leading too til Nurmi surged past him on the final bend … just that extra spoonful too far?!

@ Val – I gathered you were pretty much in boat land, happily painting and scraping – getting your canal boat ready for more travels. Hippo in Greek is for a horse … but I’m sure hippos were around too … and isn’t the thought of that Oxo diet – pretty dire.

Thanks so much – lovely to have the extra comments and thoughts … cheers to you all - Hilary

Friko said...

Ah well, I am not that much into sport and I doubt that I’ll watch any contests, except possibly by accident, while waiting for the news or some such.

But as a cultural event they are interesting, I accept that their history is worth knowing.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Interesting to remember that once women weren't thought capable of Olympic sport!

I read a fascinating article yesterday arguing that the Olympics should return to Greece permanently...the cost and waste of countries building facilities for the sports and the disuse. I wonder if that will come to pass.

Mason Canyon said...

Enjoyed the tidbits about the games. Sometimes the history is more fascinating than the event.

mail4rosey said...

You definitely do not want to have to bring your own refreshments. Nor, would athletes want to compete naked, ha! That's dangerous first and foremost. ;)

How fun that you remember being on your father's back to see the runners go by years ago.

I used to watch the Olympics. We don't have a TV now, which I don't mind a bit, usually, but it would be nice to catch this here and there.

Jean Davis said...

I would like to propose that we bring back chariot races and this time DO use hippos. That would certainly be an interesting and entertaining event to watch.

Bish Denham said...

Those are some interesting bits of trivia! I'm not sure what Oxo is but it doesn't sound all that appetizing. Poor Joseph Gullemot. At least back then there wasn't social media else the image of his disaster would have been made available for all to see!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Friko - I can understand ... I've always loved my sport - and I'm sure inadvertently you'll see or hear about a few results - especially as we've now got a gold and a silver. I did write about the Olympics and its start from Much Wenlock ... in connection with the London Opening Ceremony.

@ Elizabeth - I know ... history and men's influence?

That article does sound very interesting - and what a great idea ... especially today with all the refugees over in Greece and the Middle East - I think I like this suggestion.

Apparently the process is 10 years ... note intention of applying, the candidature process itself takes 7 years ... so the earliest this could happen would be 2028 - they'd need to cancel this present process.

Interesting ...

@ Mason - yes I agree - it's the effort all the entrants make ... that's quite extraordinary ... and as everyone says - it's one shot ...

@ Rosey - well I bet the entrants are glad they're not travelling with food in tow - think of all the immigration process you'd need to go through?! The nakedness today - would be a shock - for us at least ...

I don't remember being on my father's back ... as I was told - but it's a good story! And remembrance for me ... I seem to have spent a lot of time on his back at various stages in my earlier months and years ...

I don't blame you for not having a tv - but I'd miss out on things like this ... I don't watch a lot ...

@ Jean - well that would be an interesting thought process ... would they be naked? It would probably crash YouTube?!

Great comments everyone - so pleased you enjoyed this post ... cheers Hilary

bazza said...

I think there was a lot of activity prior to the 1896 games, most of it in England. The Wenlock Games are still in existence!
We watched the Olympic Flame go past us 100m from our house in 2012. Then we provided a breakfast of smoked salmon bagels, orange juice & coffee for about twenty friends!
CLICK HERE for Bazza’s fabulous Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Deborah Weber said...

Oh I'm glad to have a dose of Hilary history highlights for the Olympics! And I think it's marvelous you got to witness an event in person - from the perfect high vantage point no less!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You're like my little encyclopedia on everything! Thanks for sharing all of this; it's fascinating. OXO? Wow, thank goodness they stopped that practice.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Bazza - the Olympics or some form of Games was around ... and I know the Wenlock Games have continued on. I remember you mentioned about the Olympic Flame going past in 2012 - and then that party ... sounds fun - something you'll all remember.

@ Deborah - well I have no remembrance, but at a few months old .. not surprising really. I do remember the Munich one - as I was employed for that ... and then got taken over ... but I'd have loved to have had tickets for the Olympics here - but as my Mama was still alive - I wasn't sure what to do - in fact she died about 3 weeks before ... but these times are never foretold. I was able to relax and watch ...

@ Joylene - it's a pleasure to have happy readers and commenters. Oxo was a bit much wasn't it - but I bet it was a good drink back then.

Cheers to the three of you - Hilary

Fil said...

Great facts Hilary - in spite of myself I end up watching bits of the Olympics, although the drug taking scandal is dominating at the minute. Well done to the swimmers today, but our poor boxer got put out early. Thank goodness for headlines to give us the medal updates :)
Fil

Kathleen Valentine said...

I must confess I stopped following the Olympics some years back. I want chariot races and maybe a joust. There's nothing quite as invigorating as a good joust.

Karen Lange said...

I know very little about the origins and whatnot of the Olympics, and what I learned in school days has long since left. So I appreciate this interesting bit of history and commentary. You have this wonderful way of informing and entertaining us! :)

cleemckenzie said...

Some very peculiar history, indeed. I don't think I could guzzle anything with oxo in it. Even the name implies something you'd have to hold your nose to swallow.

I wish they'd raced hippos, but alas they wanted speed. Those Greeks! Look where all that racing about has landed them.

Cooks cross the finish line first in my book. I want them off the track and in the kitchen.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Oh my the food. I think I might turn the other way. I'm praying big time for no terrorism at the Olympics. And wish I were there!!!

Teresa

Mark Noce said...

I think the London 1948 games are all the more inspiring considering the had just survived the war a few years prior. A real triumphant celebration of humanity:)

Liz A. said...

I should have read this before I read the blog that had the link to the Olympics quiz. Which I did pretty badly on.

Caryn Caldwell said...

What fun facts! I didn't know most of that. I wish I could watch the Olympics this year, but we don't have a subscription to anything but Netflix and Amazon Prime. I've heard it's been amazing, though. Enjoy it!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Fil – yes I’ll watch bits – but it’s good to be able to have it on and sort of dip into it - like the Bran Tub! We’re back with 4ths sadly … but still they’ve done so well to get there and be Olympians.

@ Kathleen – I’ve always enjoyed it – but can understand people switching off. The chariot races and a joust – would certainly switch up the watching element! Jousting is an extraordinary discipline …

@ Karen – I think we do forget so much … but adding little bits and bobs into the blogosphere can amuse –and I’m just glad it does: thank you.

@ Lee – certainly some very peculiar history. One of my first cookbooks was an Oxo cook book – explaining the cuts of meats etc … I still use it occasionally: the recipes I’d alter somewhat …

The thought of catching a hippo, bridling it … and then getting on the thing – could make a horror story, or something so incredibly funny – everyone’d be in hysterics … good exercise though.

I hope the Greek situation et al can be sorted out …

I expect, in this instance, the cooks were racing to get out of the kitchen.

@ Teresa - I’m sure the thought of this food appals many … but ‘dem times were different. I’d love to be there – especially as there are plenty of seats … I hope it goes off safely.

@ Mark – the 1948 Games were inspiring considering Europe had survived the War … absolutely – your words are so true … “a real triumphant celebration of humanity” ….

@ Liz – the little book has a few other facts?! I wonder how I’d do … anyway I’m glad you feel slightly better informed now!

@ Caryn – thanks so much – good to see you … and I don’t blame you for not having tv. Rio seems such a wonderful place to hold the Olympics … I shall enjoy having a squizz at it ..

Cheers to you all – good to see you and have all your extra comments and thoughts – cheers Hilary

Chrys Fey said...

Fascinating to learn what it was like back in the day. I definitely wouldn't eat a full meal anytime before a competition. Ick.

Christine Rains said...

How fun and interesting! I would watch races with hippos. Though they wouldn't be able to have people around the animals! Have a lovely week, Hilary.

Lynn said...

I think those instructions for Olympians would work well now and for everyone. :)

DMS said...

The Olympics certainly have some interesting tidbits in their history. Fun facts! The advice for being an Olympian seems like good common sense and still applies.

I do not know what Oxo is= but now I am curious.

Thanks for sharing!
~Jess

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Chrys - yes it's always interesting to get a bit of background - I could never eat before a match of any sort ... or if I'm going for a walk .. as you say - 'ick'!

@ Christine - I wouldn't mind watching hippos race - how you get them to move I've no idea ... but they are pretty grumpy! Also as you say - we'd need to be over the hill and far away ...

@ Lynn - yes, there'd need to be little alteration for us to achieve better health, would there ...

@ Jess - I was fascinated by the information that was offered ... and as Lynn above mentioned, and you agree ... we just need to apply common sense and follow Epictetus' (still true) advice ...

Oxo is a meat extract ... it's been superseded by stock cubes, granules by other organisations ... you can still get oxo cubes ... but it was a new 'food' in the 1800s with the cube coming in the early 1900s.

I've added an addendum to the post - after looking Oxo up ... Oxo, Odol mouthwash and Indian Foot Powder .... were sponsors of the London 1908 Olympics ...

Thanks so much for visiting and being interested ... cheers Hilary

Susan Scott said...

Interesting that Oxo was the first stock cube - clever. So, what was the disaster in Antwerp in 1920? Perhaps I should check your comments - maybe someone else asked the same question ...

Susan Scott said...

Ok thanks, the answer is there! And well done on GB doing so well with medals!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan - good to see you ... and yes I used Oxo originally quite a lot when I started cooking. The disaster ... I though would put people off if I mentioned it - hence the 'subtle' suggestive reference. Glad you found the answer ...

I know the Brits aren't doing so badly are they ... Cheers and thanks for commenting and searching for the answer! Hilary