Tensions were running high as a traditional Easter competiton involving hard-boiled eggs was played out in a Darlington dining room. Mike Amos reports.

Everything that it was cracked up to be, the Federation Internationale de Jarpe’s annual point-to-point was held in a Darlington dining room on Easter Sunday.

Other events were staged in Australia and New Zealand, possibly even in New Papua Guinea, though it was in a suburban side road in a North-East town that matters really came to a head.

Some suppose egg jarping to be a strictly North-East tradition, the World Jarping Association’s annual contest long held in Peterlee and organiser Roy Simpson once invited onto breakfast television to discuss its ovoid intricacies with the footballer Ian Wright and the singer Meatloaf.

Wikipedia, however, supposes it to be an ancient global tradition and with a long history of cheating. The Oxford English Dictionary has nothing to do with it.

FIJAhas a lengthy set of rules – “approved by International Council” – laying down the initial injunction that only hen’s eggs are allowed before diverting into the subtleties of holding or dunching and the permitted degree of force.

“The impact of the jarp shall be restricted to that considered sufficient to create only slight damage” the constitution decrees. “The use of excessive force is expressly prohibited.”

The jarp, it adds, shall be a single movement only.

“No feint, dummy or double movement shall be permitted by the jarper. The holder must keep the egg still until the jarp has been completed.”

Sunday’s competition was held at the home of retired Darlington Council planning officer Ross Chisholm, the Foundation’s founder and president, and his wife Pauline.

The Northern Echo: Ross Chisholm, the clipboard-wielding organiserRoss Chisholm, the clipboard-wielding organiser (Image: MIKE AMOS)

Duly checked in, several trays of hard-boiled eggs sat ready for action on the sideboard, next to a box of Cadbury’s Mini-Eggs which, presumably, had been disqualified on the grounds of professionalism.

Though the entry may not have been considered global, or stretched much beyond the west end of Darlington, there was a chap who’d been born in the Netherlands but these days supports Newcastle United and was said to be more Darlington than the town clock.

Also among the 15-or-so entrants – lovely folk, not hard-boiled at all - was former Darlington mayor and long-serving councillor Dorothy Long who at one point suggested there might be a rabbit away – an Easter bunny, presumably. More skulduggery than Darlington Borough Council? “Oh definitely” she said.

As befits a retired planning officer, Mr Chisholm carried a clipboard.

The president’s wife had also laid on a terrific Easter morning buffet, from hot cross buns to simnel cake, that ancient marzipan-based recipe with 11 or 12 little marzipan balls atop, representing Jesus’s disciples.

The debate is over whether Judas Iscariot should be included, he effectively having resigned membership a couple of days before Easter. Pauline had only added 11. “I think Judas deserves a break” she said.

Ross had learned the finer points of egg jarping as a youngster in South Shields.

“My dad taught me, he played first to three” he said.

Competition rules decree separate competition for sharp and round – sometimes blunt – ends, the winner of each to have a jarp-off to decide the supreme champion.

Time difference being what it is, the results of the Australian were already in, both categories won by the Chisholms’ daughter-in-law, the memorably named Zoe Zee Pickles.

While news from the rest of the southern hemisphere was awaited, in Darlington tension mounted, use of the phrase “Oh my God” was briefly pondered under blasphemy provisions but counterintuitively permitted since it was Easter.

A gentleman with old-fashioned onion skin-stained eggs seemed particularly disappointed to fall at the first hurdle. “Humiliated, and me from Howden-le-Wear” he said.

The Northern Echo: Sumpreme champion Toni CarrSumpreme champion Toni Carr (Image: MIKE AMOS)

In the event, and like their counterparts in the antipodes, Toni Carr won all ends up and thus became supreme champion on fulfilment of rule 13: “The winning egg(s) shall be authenticated by being broken in the head of the owner and eaten (after removing the shell for any necessary testing) by the same owner in front of the other competitors.”

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Toni admitted that her eggs had been prepared by her husband Tom, a retired science teacher. Tom in turn said – perhaps with a touch of mendacity – that he’d boiled them in a blend of all manner of things more commonly found in a chemmy lab.

It was only after several attempts, however, that – the very opposite of what might be supposed concrete evidence – the prize egg came off second best. Toni won a box of Hen Party chocolates.

All agreed it had been a great morning. Best laid plans, the Federation Internationale de Jarp rises again next Easter.