There is a large, green space in the north of London covering 320 hectares, surrounded by posh people and the nouveau riche. Hampstead Heath, as it is called, is normally full of runners, roller bladers and gentlemen looking to frolick around with other gentlemen, but today I learned that in 1950 and 1951 it was a venue for nordic ski jumping.
This useless piece of knowledge came to me in that lovely half-dormant state I normally encounter during 9 – 10am on a Saturday morning, when I listen to the reassuring voice of the Reverend Richard Cole on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Saturday Live’, the closest thing an atheist can come to a religious experience. Apparently a bunch of, ahem, “eccentrics”, from the Central Council of Physical Recreation, alongside the Ski Club of Great Britain and the Oslo Ski Association organised the transport of 45 tons of snow in insulated containers and built a 18 meter ski ramp to showcase the joy of ski-jumping (and have an Oxford vs Cambridge competition of that particular sport).
I think this should be re-instated. With Hampstead Heath’s current transient population of men enjoying ‘alternative lifestyles’, there is a potential glamorous competition in the making that Channel 5 should be delighted to sponsor.