On a weekend stuffed with quality sport, like a turkey overflowing with pork and chestnut, cranberry and skirlie, and plain old sausage meat mixtures, we have the added fun of 2 boats from English universities rowing up the Thames for about 20 minutes.
Bizarrely this sporting endeavour, which is really nothing more than a personal rivalry between 2 institutes of learning who each claim to be the oldest in the land, garners a 2 hour television show, and a fair acreage of print in the quality broadsheets.
How and when did this come about and are there really so many people world-wide who give a damn?
Well, dear readers, you may be surprised to discover that I have no answers to this, just wild speculation and an imagination that knows no bounds!
I suspect, just a tiny bit, that corporate sponsorship - ie the unholy worshipping at the shrine of Mammon - and the seemingly endless internecine warfare between the BBC and ITV over sports coverage in general may be the main factors.
When I was a child, growing up in a university family in Oxford, the race was broadcast on BBC radio, and to be honest, I think the only people who listened were those who had some direct connection with either the oarsmen themselves, or the colleges they studied at. It was just a slightly more important event than the inter-college rowing competitions that take place in Oxford and Cambridge every year. The Cambridge one, I believe, is called The Bumps (though I may have been misinformed). The Oxford one is very confusingly called Eights Week, although it takes place in Sixth Week - took me years to understand that!
The years went by, the whole thing became more serious. Sponsorship was acquired and instead of just chaps who were at the universities and quite good at rowing being involved, colleges recruited overseas athletes specifically for their skills (academe taking second place sometimes to sporting prowess). The boats became loaded with Canadians, Americans, Australians, and even non-colonials: Germans for instance. British rowers able to find a place in the boat were Olympic standard and the television coverage began in earnest on the BBC. A few years ago ITV took over, and to my mind it is only since then that the fervour has been whipped up to today's extraordinary level, and I genuinely struggle to see why this should be.
You see, it's almost always a rather dull event. It's generally over by the time the boats get round the first bend and past Craven Cottage. That's approximately 3 minutes into the race. Mostly any excitement that ensues is if the weather is particularly bad and there's a possibility of a boat sinking.
And as if designed to prove me wrong, this year we had a very exciting race - up until the 10th minute when Cambridge went ahead, and because of the luck of the toss and being on the station that is favoured in the latter stages, that was it. Over - a Light Blue win.
So, according to figures I've found, approximately 400 million people will have watched that on global TV and 250,000 hapless sods will have traipsed down to the banks of the Thames - for 10 minutes of competitive sport. Still, at least for the spectators on the banks it was free, and they have not put yet more money into the corporate money safe.