The finishing line of a Pancake Day race might be just about the only time when it’s not only socially acceptable to call someone a tosser but for that also to be a mark of achievement. The legend has it that tossing originated in the sleepy town of Olney when a housewife, consumed with the business of pancake making, forgot herself entirely until hearing the church bells when she raced out the house – complete with frying pan and pancake. London’s pancake flipping races, now an ingrained city-wide tradition, take place every year on Shrove Tuesday so pick one near you for February 21.
Inter-Livery race, noon
Has Shrove Tuesday creped up on you? The folks behind the Inter-Liver pancake race have got it covered. Bringing together teams drawn from livery companies linked with the making and consumption of pancakes (the Poulters take the eggs, the Fruiterers the lemons and the Cutlers the plastic forks), the winning team of four gets a commemorative frying pan.
Better Bankside race, noon.
At this annual pancake race teams, drawn mainly from local businesses are encouraged to donate a minimum of £20 to the charity Paintings in Hospitals. The winner is the first team past the post with more than a third of the pancake in the pan still whole. The rules state ‘each pancake must be visibly flipped’ and competitors should be aware that Marshals will advise on the validity of a flip. Many of the teams compete with each other throughout the year in other events such as boules and quizzes, meaning things get pretty frisky on Pancake Day.
Great Spitalfields race, 12.30pm
Teams in wacky costumes ranging from specially created couture outfits from the fashionable loacal, to construction workers in off the hanger hard hats and even a Time Out team run up and down Dray Walk, off Brick Lane, flipping pancakes to raise money for charity through sponsorship or a donation on the day. Organiser Alternative Arts prefers it if you register in advance for this Shrove Tuesday event.
Parliamentary Pancake race
The race with the most high-profile participants is the Parliamentary Pancake Day Race, which pits three teams of Lords MP’s and press against one another to raise the profile of the charity Rehab. ITV news anchor Natasha Kaplisky is this year’s official starter and responsible for overseeing the gentlemanly rules of engagement – namely that participants flip pancakes continuously around the course as part of a relay team. It’s free to spectate and usually thronged with photographers lauding over the honourable members’ tossing skills. Didi Mae Hand