Everytime a child says, "I don't believe in fairies" a little fairy somewhere says "Piss off, I don't believe in children"

I did not write this, so don't leave whinging comments in my guestbook. It is borrowed from a webpage that I love dearly, the University of the Bleeding Obvious - anyone who knows me well will already know I am not exactly a fan of children. Not to worry though, I do not condone sport related slapping of children, personally, I would prefer to use a machete and a big gun!

Last month, Montreal played host to the 4th International Child Slapping Championships - and this year saw the biggest turnout yet, with an estimated six thousand people flocking from around the world to attend this special event. This is as clear an indication as any that child slapping is at last being brought into the mainstream and receiving due recognition as a serious sport.

We at the University of the Bleeding Obvious have long voiced our support for this noble sport, and were particularly proud to sponsor this year's championships, in association with Coca-Cola. Of course, we realise that in the past there have been voices of dissent. It has been suggested that the sport is cruel, harmful, barbaric even - but these are criticisms levelled by people who simply do not understand. It's about discipline. It's about technique. It is about dedication and the sheer love of beating up small children. And why not? Personally we believe that there is nothing finer than the sight of a grown man thumping the living daylights out a small, defenceless child. Who, let's be honest, would not be moved to tears by the dull thud of palm against cheek? Who could not fail to appreciate the majestic sounds of splintering bones and the ear-piercing shriek of a child in pain? And I think we can say that this year's event displayed the spirit of child slapping to the full.

"Poise and balance are essential for a good slapper, and an effective follow-through always impresses"

The day kicked off in fine style with the first round of the 'Straight Slapping' event. This is the very core of child slapping. Twelve competitors representing various nations take turns to slap a range of six to ten year old children around the face. Competitors are allowed to use only the palm or the back of the hand - punching, kicking, gouging and biting result in instant disqualification. Of these twelve contestants, three are chosen by a panel of distinguished judges to go through to the grand final. The judges look for good, concise, clean slapping. Poise and balance are essential for a good slapper, and an effective follow-through always impresses. Extra points are awarded if the child bursts out crying, although rendering the 'slapee' unconscious is generally frowned upon by most judges.

Fortunately we were blessed with some excellent weather, and the slapping conditions were indeed favourable. A brief fall of rain the previous evening had left the children moist and supple. It is especially important when slapping children to get the right mix - too dry and the child is brittle and unresponsive; too wet and grip can be a problem.

And so the competition got underway. Taking an early lead was 45 year old Dennis 'Chips' Denny, from Nebraska. Chips Denny is an auto-mechanic and, weighing in at an awesome 280 lbs, he is the perfect build for hitting young children. He takes the sport very seriously and practices for these championships all year round. When he's not slapping his own children - Dennis Jr, aged eight, and Marie, five - he will often hike into the forest near his home and pick fights with grizzly bears. With this level of dedication, it's no wonder that he is the reigning champion. And it was no surprise that the judges picked him to go through to the final.

The other choices were more surprising. Lance Ulvasson is a 38-year-old welder from Trondheim, and has only been slapping professionally for six months. This is his first major competition. He puts his late start down to the fact that he has served the last twenty years in prison for crimes of an unspecified nature. It was here that he first became interested in taking up the sport, but his efforts to start his own prison slapping league were hampered by - in his words - 'a conservative and unprogressive governor'. His lack of experience results in a rather primitive slapping technique, which shows a distinct absence of flair and control. Nevertheless, the judges were sufficiently impressed with his dedication to earmark him for the final. As one of them put it, "Ulvasson has a real love for slapping small children. You only have to see the concentration on his face as he's battering marrow out of some unfortunate infant. There's real malevolence in those eyes, bordering on psychosis. Given a few more years, this guy will be a major star on the slapping circuit."

The third choice for the final was perhaps the most contentious. Weighing in at a relatively slight 138 lbs, Damian Cork, an estate agent from Surrey, England, is not your typical slapper. Nevertheless, despite being only 27 years old, he has been a regular at these competitions for some years now. In fact, he has a certain notoriety in his home town - where he is frequently stopped by the police - and during the summer he gives exhibitions of slapping in Agia Napa.

"Most competitors begin their slap from a standing start, but Cork usually takes a run up"

Cork was introduced to the sport at an early age by his father, who habitually used to slap him senseless. Ever since then he has had a burning desire to follow in his father's footsteps and he never misses the opportunity to hit not just children, but also the elderly, the infirm and anyone who happens to be smaller than himself. However, despite entering many competitions, this is the first time he has made it through to the final. This has more than a little to do with his reputation for letting his enthusiasm get the better of him. For example, most competitors begin their slap from a standing start, but Cork usually takes a run up. Although this isn't specifically against the rules, it is considered a sign of poor technique.

In the past he has gone further. At last year's championships, he had to be dragged from the field when he set about his victim with a wooden plank, a move specifically outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Thankfully, this year he showed restraint and - despite getting rather carried away at one point and kneeing a marshal in the soft bits - he put in a marvellous display of slapping, and rightfully earned his place in the final.

After the Straight Slapping it was time for a break and a little light entertainment as we were treated to a display of traditional Bavarian Folk Slapping. This was an unscheduled event, occasioned by the arrival of some folk from Bavaria who had turned up by accident and were dragged into the main arena to be beaten black and blue. Meanwhile, in the adjacent showtent, attendees had a chance to see some veteran child slappers in action.

This may only be the 4th international event, but child slapping has a long established past, with national leagues in over 40 different countries - possibly 43 - as well as countless local and regional tournaments. Over the years, it has thrown up many a celebrity, and we were lucky that three slapping superstars - Slaps McGurgle, Jim 'Thighbone' Tranter and Boris Thwack - agreed to come along and demonstrate some of their well-honed slapping skills. They may be retired from the professional circuit now, but these steadfast old troupers can still crack the odd jawbone or two, and between them they entertained the crowds with some fascinating anecdotes about their slapping exploits in the old days.

Then it was back to the main arena to attend a masterclass given by the great Brian Stokes-Slammer. In his time, Stokes-Slammer has trained over 200 of the world's top prize child slappers, as well as holding the East London Medium Weight Child Slapping title six years running. A legend in the sport, his advice is still sought by up-and-coming child slappers today, and there were many keen amateur slappers present who jumped at the opportunity of learning a few tricks of the trade from a master. Many of them had previously only been able to practice on their own children and so the opportunity of being able to slap a proper competition-standard child was one that was not to be missed. And indeed, very few of them did miss.

"Professional children are extensively trained and have just the right degree of elasticity"

Stokes-Slammer was keen to emphasise how important it was to have the right kind of slapee. Just as a professional tennis player cannot play with a substandard racket, so a professional child slapper cannot punch a substandard child. It's all very well beating up your nephew, or twatting children randomly in the street, but you'll notice the difference when hitting a competition-standard child. This is because professional children are extensively trained and have just the right degree of elasticity. The children for our tournament were all provided by the Oakbeam Primary School in Toronto, and, in spite of the odd dud, most proved to be excellent. Indeed, many of them will survive to participate in next year's event.

Speaking of fatalities, this is just the sort of thing that namby-pamby anti-slapping groups leap on for publicity. According to these misguided do-gooders, slapping children is a cruel and unnecessary pastime, and they are pressing for a ban. The slappers, on the other hand, claim that child slapping is good for the countryside, as it keeps the numbers of children down.

We were interested in the opinion of Kevin McDonald, himself a slapee some fifty years ago, who had come along to promote his new book, 'Getting Slapped For Fun and Profit'. Kevin recalled that back then the sport was a good deal more violent than it is today.

"I first started getting beaten up by my father when I was five years old," he told us. "This, of course, was during the war, when times were harsh and children had to be knocked about for the good of the country. My father was a slight and ineffectual man and this, I believe, played a large part in his decision to take up child battery."

Professional slappers today believe that a child has to be at least seven years old before you can start belting the shit out of him. Five is a little young to be introduced to the sport. We asked Kevin whether this concerned him at all.

"Not one bit," he said. "Obviously, a five year old doesn't present as much of a target as an older child. And being rather slight meant that my father had to tie bricks to my ankles to stop me flying off into the wall every time he hit me. But it gave me a head start and by the time I was old enough to take part in competitions I was already a seasoned pro. Kids these days have got it easy. Back then we didn't have any of the safety measures that are in force today. Bouts would often last for up to two hours or more, and the kids were tied to posts to keep 'em upright in case they passed out. The trouble today is that the sport is too safe. It's taken all the drama out of it. Back then, a good child slapper would just keep going until you were a bloody pulp. Now, the ref will blow the whistle as soon as your head comes off."

Kevin is a regular at these events, and always attracts a crowd with his stories of what he calls 'the good old days'. He seems very proud of his former career.

"You know what they say: behind every good slapper is a good slappee"

"Certainly I'm proud," he admitted. "After all, you know what they say: behind every good slapper is a good slappee. If it weren't for us, you would never have heard of the likes of Slaps McGurgle and Jim Twatt. We may not get the same publicity, but we are as much a part of the equation as anyone. What people forget is that there a very special bond between slapper and slappee. We work as a team, anticipating each other's actions, working with each other in a truly symbiotic way. There's a real contact between us. Okay, that contact only lasts a fraction of a second, but it's very real and it hurts like hell."

Bearing this in mind, we asked Kevin if he had any advice for the youngsters involved in today's tournament?

"I've seen good work here today," Kevin replied. "These kids are natural victims. I can see some deep-seated traumas already developing, and this I think is a good thing. I was impressed with eight year old Greg Kipling, who partnered Basher Lloyd in the first event. He held up very well against a particularly brutal attack, and his screaming was first rate. I managed to impart a few words of advice to him as he was carried to the ambulance, though I'm not sure he heard me. Even so, I think he'll go on to some considerable success in the future, if he pulls through."

From one tournament regular to another, as once again it was the turn of self-proclaimed Professor of 'Slapology' Max Bender to entertain us with his display of automatic slapping machines. Every year, Bender's machines seem to be more and more ingenious, and this year he demonstrated a hydraulic slapper capable of delivering a blow that could cripple a rhinoceros, and a computer controlled robot slapper that can actually learn different slapping techniques through a process of trial and error. However, his most impressive offering was a solar powered slapper, which can slap over forty children a minute using nothing more than the power of the sun. How's that then, all you environmentalists out there? Stick that one in your pipe and smoke it!

But there is, of course, a serious side to Max Bender's work. He is constantly campaigning to get child slapping recognised as a serious subject for research, and The Max Bender Institute has done much to promote 'the science behind the slap'. Well done, Professor Max Bender!

"They gave us a talk on their desire to improve society by bringing life into harmony with natural law"

Time for another interlude, and this time it was the turn of the Natural Law Party Special Display Team to entertain us. They gave us a brief but informative talk on their desire to improve society by bringing life into harmony with natural law, then finished off with an impressive Yogic Flypast. Then it was away with all the peace and love shit, and back to the slapping.

This year's Ladies' Formation Slap took the theme of the French Aristocracy, circa 1780. Trussed up in constricting corsets, swathed in petticoats and straining beneath heavy powdered wigs, twelve of the world's top female slappers executed a meticulously choreographed slapping routine, to the delight of the crowds. As is usual, the routine rapidly descended into a free for all in which the participants tried their damnedest to wrench each other's eyeballs out. God, how we laughed.

But the laughter didn't last long, for the tournament finale was upon us - the final of the Straight Slapping competition. This is the ultimate title that every slapper craves, and the contestants were in suitably sombre mood. As the three of them lined up in front of their specially selected slapees, a hush descended on the arena. It was a hush that you could taste. A hush that you could smell. For some, it was a hush that nuzzled up against your inner thigh and pressed its cold wet nose against a tender spot - unbearable, yet strangely compelling. The referee blew the whistle, and then the arena suddenly exploded in a flurry of slappage.

"The stuff of slapping legend"

I doubt that any of us who were present that day will ever really forget what happened next. Indeed, in future years it is sure to become the stuff of slapping legend. It plays in our memories like a movie in slow motion. The steely look of concentration on Chips Denny's face as slapping's favourite son rained blow after blow on eight-year-old Simon Parker. Lance Ulvasson's furtive, hasty glances at his fellow competitors as he pummelled ten-year-old Britney Walker into the welcoming arms of oblivion. But most of all we will remember Damian Cork laying into seven-year-old Patricia Mayhew like something not right ... and his beaming smile just before tragedy struck. For barely were we into the third minute when the unthinkable happened. As Cork delivered a vicious backhander there was an unexpected blowback and the youngster exploded. Cork, one of international child slapping's most infamous stars was, sadly, killed outright.

The crowd was stunned. Even now, the world can hardly believe it. That such a talented and enthusiastic little bastard should be wiped out at such an early age, never having reached his full potential, seems such a waste. The finger of blame was quick to point, as it always is on these occasions - most people hold the organisers accountable for allowing such a dangerously explosive child to be used in the event, although a sizeable contingent blame Cork himself for wearing the wrong kind of shoes.

Ultimately, however, it is the sport of slapping itself that will suffer. Those who seek to condemn it have seized upon this unfortunate accident to illustrate their objections. They use words like 'cruelty' and 'barbarism', and tell us that we must pick on people our own size. But there are lessons we must learn here. Now, more than ever, we slappers need to stand shoulder to shoulder, united in the belief of our common creed - namely, that if you're going to slap anybody, then make sure it's someone who can't hit back.

Roll on next year.

Borrowed from the wonderous University of the Bleeding Obvious

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