There are – these days – not that many players of the traditional English sport of cheese tickling still around. This is not surprising even though scientists have confirmed in recent experiments at the European Large Cheese Collider, for example, that a well-tickled Edam is a much happier cheese than an un-tickled one.
However, Hettie Curdsnwhey has emerged as the UK’s leading contender for the World Solo Cheese Tickling Cup when it is next held, at Tipton World Cheese Sports Arena, in 2016. Professional cheese tickling is – of course – a much more demanding sport that say giving a stilton a quick giggle in your own domestic cheese tickling room, no matter how well-equipped that room.
For example, even celebrity chef-endorsed professional cheese tickling racquets and cues can rarely be wielded by an amateur with the dexterity, expertise or tactical finesse of the true professional. No matter how many YouTube videos on cheese tickling they have watched.
However, as Curdsnwhey herself has proved, it is possible for an enthusiastic amateur to climb up into the professional league and even to tickle at a professional level. That is providing they are prepare to put in the hours of gruelling training.
Even so, Curdsnwhey’s father was the first to see his daughter’s potential. He claims she was only five when he took the training wheels off her first child-sized cheese-tickling racquet. A feat almost unheard of since the days of W.G. ‘Sage’ Derby, England’s greatest ever cheese tickler, back in the 19th century.
Soon, the young Curdsnwhey, at the age of 13, was playing centre mid-off winger for the Wensleydale Disenchantments, despite only being eligible for the England schoolgirl’s team.
Curdsnwhey turned professional at 16 and was picked for the 2008 England squad that played in the World International All Countries (and Wales) Cheese Tickling finals. Although that team, as is traditional for an England sports team got knocked out in the group stage, Curdsnwhey’s performance was enough to secure her place for many years to come.
However, to the shock of many fans and the scepticism of many sports journalists, Curdsnwhey decided to take up the solo game. It is a very different form of cheese ticking to the team game, especially when entering the back straight right before the chicane. Many of those journalists voiced their doubts that Curdsnwhey could cope with the water jump, or the pole vault, when playing solo. It was generally agreed, at least by those who think they know what they are talking about, that these were the weaker parts of her game. This was especially so when she was faced with a French cheese, or even a more crumbly than normal Cheshire or Caerphilly.
Still, as is usually the case in stories like this, Curdsnwhey proved her critics wrong. She went on to win not only the daunting Luton Steeplechase, but also the Carlisle Mediocre International. Curdsnwhey not only set a new world record for Emmental but also proved her skill with the often-tricky Camembert in the last over before tea.
All in all then it looks as though with Curdsnwhey the glory days could be returning to English cheese tickling at long last.