Patrick Chaplin: Fans fitter than players?

 

'DARTS FANS ARE FITTER THAN DARTS PLAYERS’

SENSATIONAL NEW RESEARCH FINDINGS

‘Dr. Wright-Blobb (right) and Baldwin Farquar undertaking practical research at a ‘special’ LPDC darts night’ (Photo: Driversnapz)

‘Dr. Wright-Blobb (right) and Baldwin Farquar undertaking practical research at a ‘special’ LPDC darts night’ (Photo: Driversnapz)

One of the most highly respected darts manufacturing companies has recently invested thousands of pounds in a social survey to investigate its Marketing Director’s theory that people who watch darts are actually fitter than those who play.

This extraordinary, some cynics might say outrageous, theory, based on knowledge accumulated by watching thousands of hours of darts matches on TV and bootleg DVDs, sitting in an armchair with his best girl on one side and his wife on the other, is the brainchild of Baldwin Farquar, the Marketing Director of the Langford Patent Darts Company (LPDC). Farquar, a former bouncer for the Early Learning Centre, became immersed in darts in the early 1970s and, realising its potential, decided to jump on the bandwagon. Unfortunately he mistimed his jump, missed the bandwagon completely and landed in the street cracking two ribs.

Once released from hospital, he convalesced for a few weeks at the Llandudno Private Nursing Home for Young Ne’er-do-wells. There a number of young, highly experienced, very helpful and excitable yet versatile nurses brought him out of his state of flux and gave him vigourous intimate physiotherapy until his discharge. He reluctantly left the hospital three weeks after that. Back at work Farquar was full of ideas, most of which he kept to himself as they had nothing whatever to do with darts - but one did.

Farquar prepared a detailed submission of his proposed survey for the Chief Executive of the LPDC, Bernie T. Bolt, and eventually the Board approved his plan. Farquar, stood up, thanked the members of the Board, was dismissed, turned quickly to his right and, having ricked his left ankle in the process, hobbled down the room and out the door. Back in the privacy of his own padded, sound-proofed office, Farquar let flee a scream of pain. He then struggled to his desk, opened a drawer and took out a litre bottle of very cheap vodka. He opened the bottle, emptied it at a draught and the pain began to subside.

Farquar’s decision to lead the survey was Dr. Wright-Blobb of the University of Midsomer Millpond. Wright-Blobb certainly possessed the right academic credentials. He had already carried out many other pointless sports surveys including his unforgettable research, ‘The behavioural, physical and mental impact on athletes occasioned by them wearing running shoes two sizes too small in the 100 metres dash’ (1998), the ground-breaking ‘Assessment of hitherto unknown but important other ways of picking up a discus’ (2001) and the illuminating ‘Bike sheds and their role in extra-curricular sports activities’ (2005).

Wright-Blobb was thrilled to have been given another challenge and worked closely with Farquar to establish the criteria for the research. The survey titled, ‘Darts, the unconscious and the semi-conscious – a comparative study of the fitness of players and fans’ commenced in the autumn of 2008. Wright-Blobb set about the task ably assisted by a group of top-notch students in the final year of their BA (Hons) in Niche Sports at the university.

Dr. Wright-Blobb adopted a strategy which he had successfully utilised in the past. It consisted of him sitting around eating and drinking in bars whilst other people did all the work. The students meanwhile prepared a questionnaire to be filled in by respondents to their survey and produced a schedule of visits to local, county and national darts competitions. They spent the period October 2008 to mid-January 2009 on the task and at the end of February submitted their report to Wright-Blobb, who had recently returned from a strenuous four weeks of adult recreation in Tenerife. By mid-March Wright-Blobb was sober enough to be able to read the report. He then signed off the document, thereby calling it his own, and immediately submitted the results to an expectant and excited Baldwin Farquar.

Farquar was thrilled with the results. “It proves what I’ve always said to be the case” he announced confidently to the Board at the LPDC in late March, “and that is that darts fans are fitter than darts players.” Indeed, Farquar had said that all along. In fact people who worked around him had become extremely fed up with him expounding his theory and now that the survey results had confirmed his views, he was, in the words of one of his colleagues at the Board meeting, “Going to be ****in’ unbearable.”

Just as Farquar and Wright-Blobb thought they had the Board and further funding in their grasp for another darts-related project tentatively titled Lap-Dancers and oche lengths – a comparative study, Denise Grumble, a statistician of no fixed sexual preference and advisor to the Board, spoke. “Excuse me Mr. Chairman” – the Chairman recognised her and bade her to speak. “I have just noticed that, in the tiny, itsy-bitsy print in Appendix 24a, sub-section (1) (g) sub paragraph (iii) of the research schedule only fans who were actual sportsmen and women were asked to complete the survey and that no darts players were interviewed at all. I was wondering why that was.” Chairman Bolt turned to Farquar and Farquar turned to Wright-Blobb. “Good question” said Farquar. He hesitated. Wright-Blobb stood up and said, “The reason is quite obvious Mr. Chairman.” Bolt snarled both at Wright-Blobb and the thought that he might have missed something ‘obvious’.

“Really?” asked the Chairman. “Tell us more.”

Wright-Blobb continued, “Mr. Chairman, the reason for limiting our subject base is that my team consisted of middle-class and upper middle-class sports students. They’re not going to interview ordinary people are they? I mean, for example, in a preliminary survey undertaken whilst an important match was in progress, 95% of my team received the response “Shut the **** up, I’m watching the darts.” Needless to say, after that, we ignored that kind of potential interviewee. I mean what do darts fans know about sport anyway?” Bolt winced, as did the rest of the Board.

Wright-Blobb went on, “As for players, well, they unanimously failed to cooperate with the survey simply because one of my team, who also happens to work as a masseuse (and a very good one too I might add) to supplement her student loan, asked a key lady darts player the important question “Why are you so fat?” As a result the poor child was in A & E receiving treatment to her face for several hours. Clearly the outcomes of our survey will naturally be skewed by this and reflect the inexplicable failure of both the ordinary fans and the darts players to participate.” The Chairman banged his gavel and the Board meeting descended into chaos.

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The invoice submitted by Wright-Blobb for costs incurred relating to the research has not, as yet, been settled by the LPDC.

Baldwin Farquar now works as a volunteer hedge trimmer somewhere in the Amazonian rain forest.

© 1st April 2009 Gerald O’Lapane

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