If you are an international import from a far away land like myself you’re likely to find this age old rural English tradition just as bizarre as I do. This isn’t about a bunch of pimply, pill taking teenagers on park benches seeing who can pull the best distorted facial expression, despite the ever eloquent Urban Dictionary misleading me: ‘Gurning is when you have took xtc, cocaine or amphetamine which makes your jaw rock. E.g I’ve fucked my teeth from gurning, mate.’
In fact, the annual World Gurning Championships take place in a small fishing village in Cumbria at the Crab Fair- definitely the last place you’d think of dropping pills. Although I bet at some point someone has thought about it.
The main aim is to accomplish a ‘full face inversion’, which is when the lips completely cover the head. Although it sounds like something from a cartoon, people seem to come pretty close to it. The elderly men and women appear to be further advanced in the art of gurning than the young guns of Cumbria, getting your nose inside your mouth must be easier without any teeth.
The tradition began in 1267 in the town of Egremont and involves the competitor framing their face with a horse collar and contorting their faces to the best of their ability. After some seriously hard research, I have decided that Horst Ehbauer is my favourite gurner on the go. Check him out: