Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Secret Side of Fez ~ Clandestine Croquet


Thanks to the latest technology, The View From Fez is able to reveal secret footage taken at a clandestine meeting in Fez. Although readers will be shocked by these images, our undergroud reporter, Ibn Warraq, managed to smuggle his Teddy Bear cam into a secret meeting participants in a croquet game taking place in Fez.

The Teddy Bear Hidden DVR Camera is a first of its kind. This Completely Covert Hidden Teddy Bear DVR Camera comes with a motion activated DVR, Hi resolution 480 TV line hidden color camera, a 20 hour rechargeable battery, 8 GB SD card for 64 hrs video recording, RCA Cable, Manual, and remote control for easy operation.

The Camera is hidden in the front on the bow. The DVR is completely hidden inside the bear for total covert operations. Just set in a room and begin recording then use SD card to view on your PC. The Motion-activated recording captures all the action and has a remote for manual recording as well. The RCA cable allows you to connect to a TV to view footage or set up camera. Can be set to overwrite old information or can be set to stop when SD card is full.

"Hit me!"

What we can reveal, is that, right in the heart of Fez, groups of consenting adults are meeting in order to feed their addiction to croquet - a decadent game that involves dubious use of mallets, hoops and coloured balls - accompanied by cries of "Hit me" or "Hit him hard!"

The following images were captured by placing the Teddy-cam either on the ground or by hand holding it in an affectionate manner.  

WARNING Younger readers are advised to seek parental advice before viewing these shocking images.

Two antique mallets and four coloured balls -
NOTE: the iron hoop to the left was made in Fez by an unsuspecting ironmonger

This arcane game requires the use of implements not usually found in Morocco (see photographic evidence above).  We were shocked to learn that these implements are all of foreign origin except for the sets of iron hoops that were made in Fez.

One participant claimed to have a mallet made in Fez from Moroccan cedar, though we could not substantiate this bizarre claim.

A colourfully dressed croqueteer uses a mallet to hit a red ball between the prongs of an iron hoop!

The coloured costumes of the players was obviously designed to confuse opponents.  According to sources familiar with the rituals, hats and scarves must be worn at all times. Players must also pause between hitting other people's balls in order to refresh themselves with cucumber sandwiches and glasses of something called "Pimm's" - a brand of fruit cup, which may also be considered a liqueur. It was first produced in 1823 by a croquet player named James Pimm.

The "Godfather" - smoking Old Toby pipe-weed from "the Shire"

At each match we observed a man referred to as "The Godfather" who sat taking wagers, dispensing Pimms and ajudicating. This individual appears to have immense power and respect in these circles as he was never expected to wield a mallet himself.

The Godfather records that latest wagers. His face has been pixilated to avoid recognition and possible legal action.

No other photographs of participants were possible because a small dog carried the teddy-cam away. It did however produce some interesting shots of what dogs do when they are by themselves. We  can report that the players were multi-lingual - fluent in French Arabic, Portuguese, Finnish and Cambridge (not Oxford) English. There was also an American cowgirl player who surprised everyone with her yodelling each time she "hit someone real good"!

It is our understanding that this is not a one-off incident, but that teams of clandestine croquet players take part in regional tournaments. The underground croquet scene is rumoured to include teams such as the Casablanca Cowboys, the Marrakesh Red Stars,  the Oujda Oddballs and the Fez Falcons. We will continue our infiltration of this sect and report in due course.

The Game

The origins of croquet are a little cloudy. Croquet has been traced back to the 1300's. It is thought that it may have been an in-door version of lawn-bowling to be played in times of inclement weather. It was then played in more confined spaces. The players enjoyed it enough to bring it back outside for the summer. Originating in France, the game was called "paille-maille" which means ball-mallet.

The MacNaghten - Spratt Theory

One theory is that the game traveled from Ireland to England around 1851. A Miss MacNaghten observed peasants in France playing a game with hoops made of willow rods and mallets of broomsticks inserted into pieces of wood and introduced it in Ireland. Sometime around 1850, she passed the idea to a Mr. Spratt and is evidenced by a copy of Spratt's rules in 1851.

Miss MacNaghten may well be in this photograph

Spratt then passed the game on to John Jacques which Jacques disputed claiming he made equipment from patterns he bought in Ireland and had published rules before Spratt introduced the subject to him. Whatever the case, Jacques was the first to make equipment as a regular business and in 1864 published his first comprehensive code of laws. Since then, the manufacturing of equipment by Jacques has been passed down through generations.

After intense research, The View from Fez can bring you historical (hysterical) proof of earlier outbreaks of croquet in Morocco.

A secret croquet society game in Fez in 1890

Footnote: Our Teddy-cam has dog damage. If anyone is a qualified Teddy-cam repair specialist we would like to hear from you.

Story: Ibn Warraq
Photographs: Teddy-Cam



Haj Saladin said...

Crepuscular Croquet in Fez

Who are these odd folk who come to play
Croquet on grassy lawns where hoops abound?
Soft words they breathe and sweet things say,
Chatting while tapping mallets on the ground

Yet once the game begins, gentility is shrunk
All civility is gone and fair speech dimmed
And as each refreshing glass of Pimms is drunk
Curses are flung at bumps and grass untrimmed

And “hit me gently” is the cry oft heard
From the mouths of maidens usually sweet and fair
Until “cucumber sandwich?” Is the word
And players pause to mark the call to prayer

At games-end the winners glow with Pimms and pride
While the losers growl – and threaten croquetcide

Fouad said...

Wonderful story and I loved el Haj's sonnet

Croquet Diva said...

Thank you! So very funny. I laughed so hard I nearly wet myself. I have printed the sonnet as well for our next association meeting.

Anonymous said...


Croquetin' Cowgirl said...

Fantastic article! The Fez Croquet Club looks like a highly elite group of people. Unfortunately, it seems the teddy bear captured not only a secret society, but an unauthorized croquet practice as well. I hope, for your sake, the repercussions will not be too severe.
Yee haw!!

Ibn Warraq said...

@Cowgirl - I can report that this was not a practice - more like a well orchestrated masacre!