Conger cuddling

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Conger cuddling is a traditional event in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England, in which a dead conger eel is thrown at members of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). The practice was stopped in 2006 when an animal rights activist threatened bad publicity.

Event[edit]

Part of the town's "Lifeboat Week", the eel is attached to a rope and thrown at nine people standing on flowerpots[1] in a manner similar to skittles. There are two teams involved in a last man standing competition.[2]

The event, which attracted around 3,000 people annually between the 1970s and 1990s,[3] was used to raise funds for the RNLI. It has been called the "most fun a person could have with a dead fish".[2] The event would generally raise around £5,600 (equivalent to £7,307 in 2015) for the RNLI.[4]

History[edit]

"We decided that it really wasn't worth upsetting anybody by going ahead with using a dead conger, but it's a dead conger, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't think the conger could care one way or another."

Andrew Kaye, spokesman for Lyme Regis lifeboat crews[4]

The event started in the early 1970s when Richard Fox, a retired publican, organised the first event. It became a tradition of the town, drawing numerous spectators.[5] Fishermen would catch the eels in their nets accidentally, freeze them and defrost them for the competition.[4] However, in 2006 the RNLI made the decision that the event was "inappropriate" after a complaint was made[5] that it was 'disrespecting fish'.[6] The complaint was made by an animal rights activist who threatened the RNLI with negative publicity. When it was next held (28 July 2006) the eel had been replaced by a buoy and there were plans made for a plastic eel to be made in time for a 2007 contest.[3]

After seven years, the game was planned for a return in 2012 with a real dead eel, but not as part of Lifeboat Week, instead as a game in the "Lyme Lympics", a set of odd games. The Lympics were to be filmed for Rory McGrath's television series Great British Adventure,[6] with McGrath joining in himself,[7] however the event was cancelled on the day.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Clarke, Matt, Practical Fishkeeping. "Conger cuddling cancelled". Accessed 29 July 2006.
  2. ^ a b Reuters, 29 July 2006. "Net closes on conger cuddling". Accessed 29 July 2006.
  3. ^ a b Etim, Thelma, BBC News. 29 July 2006. "Fish lover's anger ends eel event". Accessed 29 July 2006.
  4. ^ a b c "Threat ends dead eel toss tradition". NBC News. Associated Press. 31 July 2006. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Steven Morris (29 July 2006). "Conger eel fund-raising game slithers out of favour". 
  6. ^ a b "Lyme Regis tradition is a bit fishy". Dorset Echo. 31 July 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  7. ^ "Lyme Regis: TV's Rory McGrath to enter conger cuddling contest". Bridport & Lyme Regis News. 19 July 2012. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 
  8. ^ Bell, Anne (1 August 2012). "Safety fears sink return of conger contest". Bridport & Lyme Regis News. Retrieved 26 August 2016. 

External links[edit]