“Free air lie dreads as his most dangerous foe,
And trembles at the sight of ice or snow.
The warming-pan each night glows o’er his sheets,
Then he beneath a load of blankets sweats
The which, instead of shutting, opes the door,
And lets in cold at each dilated pore
Thus does the sluggard health and vigour waste.
Sometime around 16th century, Scotland. Some icy waters. And poems. And paintings.
I honestly didnt pay that much attention to this game or sport, as i found it quite funny. So i became curious and made some research on it, and it was one of those wow moments, when the things that I found were so interesting that i decided to write about it.
The first thing i found were some really funny picture, from the Boston Public Library , dated ca. 1934–1956, especially the natural brooms. I think my grandma still uses something like that. To clean the porch where the cats sit.
Well, yes, the curling championship was initially man-only, it was the Scotch Cup, held in Scotland in 1959 and won by the Canadians. But, it is also one of the sports that became the most popular among women and girls.
Some references yet, go back to the 1795, but as a tournament between Scotland and England and it was a match recorded in history in a book called Memoralia Curliana Mabenensia, published anonymously in 1830. The reference to this match was found in the Chapter Poetical. It stated that “The following Ossianic description of a celebrated Bonspiel, played at Kirtle Bridge, in the year 1795, is by Dr Clapperton, of antiquarian memory, Lochmaben; and was found among the MSS of the late WDWH Somerville, Esq of Whitecroft.” I really enjoyed the description, as i constantly see nonsense or senseless speeches that dont encompass the big idea or the big feeling.
It is indeed impressive the historical documentation of this sport, which initially was a game of amusement, for monarchs as well, although it was not considered as elite and expensive as golf for example.
Some references go back during the times of James I (1934-1431), it is said that the game of curling was introduced in Scotland from Flanders. Later, King James IV (1472-1513) is said to have been credited with the knowledge of curling, who’s education had to accomplish the status of great curler, meaning initiated into all the mysteries of that health restoring, strength renovating, nerve-bracing, blue devil expelling, incomparable name of curling. Actually, researchers speak of the History of Ancient Curling while they studied the development of the game both in sport as much as in literature. Yes, you read that correctly. Literature. Scottish literature. In pretty much Scottish language. If you go much into reading, curling doesn’t appear to be that ancient, or at least there no precise notes on it, like archery for example, which was a game of war, but it never made to a popular game.
In those old days, it was every curler’s hope that the education of their monarchs included the initiation into the mysteries of curling, and no monarch who cannot get the curler’s grip shall be allowed to ascend the throne. Funny, as I write these lines i think of all contemporary leaders, that not only are far far far away from the necessary skills they are also far far indescribably far away from the morals that the throne requires.
So, what is curling? A game played on ice, sliding stones on ice towards a target area with 4 concentric circles. Two teams, each with four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones, with each player throwing two. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game; points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game usually consists of eight or ten ends. It is also called the chess on ice, or a disease to the mind, manily played in Scotland and Canada.
In Scotland, curling, became a sport played to get through the dullness of long winter nights. But for the curlers, it was more than that. They created tournaments, build knowledge and fellowships, laughing at the fools who thought they were in misery during their bitter winters. There is one piece of poetry from Allan Ramsay writing an epistle
“We wanted nought at a’
To make us as content a nation
As any is in the creation.”
Ramsay, was one the first to celebrate the happy nation, as he continued to share his words of wisdom towards a happy life, that the bodily exercise is of no use without the culture of the mind. I found it quite interesting that a game has inspired poets much more than love or politics did.
“Here let no youth, extravagantly given,
Who values neither gold, nor health, nor heaven,
Think that our song encourages the crime
Of setting deep, or wasting too much time
On furious game, which makes the passions boil,
And the fair mean of health a weak’ning toil,
By violence excessive, or the pain
Which ruin’d losers ever must sustain.
“Our HiIaris despises wealth so won,
Nor does he love to be himself undone
But from his sport can with a smile retire,
And warm his genius at Apollo’s fire
Find useful learning in the inspired strains,
And bless the generous poet for his pains.
Thus he by lit’rature and exercise
Improves his soul, and wards off each disease.
Of course music couldnt be missed along this ancient sport. Curlers love music. Mostly to sing, happy songs. Songs of curling appear in Royal Club Annuals, they are not spectacularly masterpieces, but some of them are funny, most of them are joyful, quite philosophical in their funniness. Who knows, maybe the ancient granite stone is the philosopher’s stone :)) Obviously this is my favorite song so far, because i also blame anybody, except myself :))
I have also searched for movies, and the first one i saw is a short 1963, directed by Jone Howe. It is called Gone curling and it really does catch the atmosphere of old little towns in their youth. At my age, i dont remember seeing social games in communities, amusement of the commonalty . No, football is not a social game. There is another one called Men with brooms, but it’s more about love than curling, and this is a subject walking on thiner ice.
I couldnt help it and I searched for curling ads. Wasnt that disappointing.
This one might really be odd, but trust me, it is more than a chicken on ice. It is a chicken sliding on thin ice.
My conclusion…I do envy these people that have found a way to entertain themselves during long dull winters and build something out of this. Something more. Something beyond communities, friendships, tournaments, skills, but to the historical heritage of something i now consider art. I will never ignore curling again.
If you have reached this far, perhaps it is worth reading that Canada for example started building an appraisal strategy for curling archives in Manitoba.
Keen, keener still, as life itself were staked,
Kindles the friendly strife : one points the line
To him who, poising, aims and aims again
Another runs and sweeps where nothing Iies.
Success alternately, from side to side,
Changes; and quick the hours un-noted fly,
Till light begins to fail, and deep below,
The player, as he stoops to lift his coit,
Sees, half incredulous, the rising moon.
But now the final, the decisive spell,
Begins ; near and more near the sounding stones,
Some winding in, some bearing straight along,
Crowd justliug all around the mark, while one,
Just slightly touching, victory depends
Upon the final aim : long swings the stone,
Then with full force, careering furious on,
Rattling, it strikes aside both friend and foe,
Maintains its course, and takes the victor’s place.
Credit Electric Scotland