“A man walks into a pub
Oy, aren't you Will Shakespeare?
Yes, I am
Get out - You're bard!”
I paraphrase slightly, but that was how it felt walking into The Bull & Butcher - stepping back a couple of centuries in time with service levels to match [rant #1 - will people please not block the bar, um and ah interminably, and then finally order a couple of latte-frappucino thingumajigs….not when I’m standing behind dying of thirst!]
Right, deep breath….and rewind a couple of hours.
The theme of ‘tardiness’ hung in the air, like the fine mist which covered the Chiltern Hills, hanging upon the treetops like a bride’s veil, tousling the fallen leaves with its nervous tendrils. Sorry, the bard must be within me…..now where was I.....Ah yes, everything was somewhat ’tardy’ that morning, what with the clocks having gone back 1 hour and horse & traps clogging up the narrow, steep-banked lane which led down from Christmas Common (suddenly doesn’t seem so far away now, does it - Christmas that is?), giving rise to all manner of excuses as to why the hash was still idly lounging around at 11:10am.
Hutch gave an inspired speech. Well, he might have done for all I know, but I wasn’t listening, having just locked my bike up and then waiting quietly for Mrs Zorro to park her car in a 17-point turn (she wasn’t even turning round at the time) so I could leave my rucksack inside.
“Shsshhh! Whatever you do, don’t say a word when she’s parking. I only just escaped with my life back there…..ah oui ma cherie, un peut plus proche peut-etre?”
Spoiler alert #1: we were off, straight up Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Hill. It’s fair to say that a few of the older 2-stroke motors were finding it tough going (that would be 2 strokes in total suffered on the ascent by the way), but Hutch promised us that the view at the top would be magnificent and well worth it. Spoiler alert #2 - refer to earlier comment about the mist.
“Well, it was beautiful yesterday and you could see all along the valley…..honestly, it really was stunning”
It’s fair to say that Hutch had already lost the trust of the hash a long time ago (some might say years, nay decades), even without imbibing some of the mushrooms found scattered liberally along the wayside. This was where the cornucopia of collective hash knowledge showed itself in its finest light:
“I think that’s a puffball mushroom” “Can you eat it?” “Probably…but you’d soon know if you shouldn’t have”. Hmm, thanks, I think I’ll stick to blackberries…..
So we continued tramping up hill and down dale, CS Gas found a swing and gave his best impression of a fair young maiden, until Stiffy remarked that he could see what CS had had for breakfast, whereupon CS coyly dismounted and the tree heaved a sigh of relief before returning back to its upright position.
Call Girl was by now walking, having announced herself ‘knackered’ and ‘fairly pissed off with running’. Or maybe it was because I overtook her whilst walking up the first hill and she thought ‘Sod it’. In fact, most of the hash were walking by now, and those that were still running had taken to ignoring the ‘On Backs’ (“If I can’t see them, I’m not doing them” - Hot Lips) so it’s fair to say the pace wasn’t exactly electric.
At some point as we descended near Getty-land (at least that’s what I’m assuming it was - he seems to own half of the Chilterns, with big pointy gates and f**k-off dogs as his unique countryside signature), Hutch now took pity on some of the ‘shorter Shorts’, giving them an escape route down the road back to the pub.
The reason for this wasn’t quite due to ‘The Munificence of Hutch’, rather the ‘Mapping C*ck up of Hutch’, having utilised some council-mapping website which was “really accurate in terms of paths available….but a little bit out regarding distances”. “How much out?” “Oh well, no more than a mile….or so”.
By now, the flour was proving trickier to find, and most of the runners had more or less given up. CS pondered whether this could be the work of a ‘Live ninja trail bandit’, a propos one slightly deluded Oxfordshire hasher who goes around wrecking pre-laid hash trails. Zorro was sent off to check anyway, but made the fatal mistake of checking downhill - we did take pity on him and called him back before he’d gone too far, but as one possessed with the turning circle of a small oil tanker, more warning was required, and he fell flat on his back. Then didn’t move. For quite a while. Oh well, ‘tant pis’ as Mrs Zorro would say, and we left him lying there.
The shorter Shorts did miss out on another amusing sight - Hutch talking with a horse. Well, the horse was being ridden, but when they both turned around at exactly the same time, about 50m ahead of us in the mist, and flashed their respective nashers, it was hard to tell which was which. This amused us greatly as ”Why the long face Hutch?” became an in-joke for the descent back down to Turville.
OK, you can fast forward now back to the beginning of this write-up, but I’ll keep it brief.
Having been served (finally), we decamped to the garden and huddled over our respective drinks. The 2nd class hashers munched miserably over their crisps whilst the Upper Class sat slightly apart, awaiting their ‘Sunday Lunch table for 10’ inside, complete with all the trimmings - good luck getting served quickly there….ha!
Hash words were hence said in haste, including congratulations for Northern Soul back from his epic bike ride, sleepovers in the village hall, and Hot Lips' refusal to publicise anything via Facebook, preferring to use her ‘Magneto-style’ mind powers. Stop, concentrate very carefully, and she’s probably telling you that right now, this very second…. or else the annoying buzzing in your head is just white noise….apart from you Stiffy, you don’t get off that easily!
So, I clocked up a tad over 9km with 285m of ascent, which added to the 24km already cycled from Wallingford (260m ascent) and the 16km still to pedal back to Wycombe (240m ascent)…..made for a bloody long, but enjoyable day!
Still, an excellent hash Hutch so many thanks for bringing us over to God’s Own Country, or at least that’s what the Vicar of Dibley used to call it, and Dawn French should know, as she used to film it round here. Oh, and the word ’French’ reminds me; I wonder if Mrs Zorro has managed to get her car out of the parking space yet……?
Overheard on the hash
“Wow, that's a big stiffy” [Call Girl]
“Ben! Put that bloody log down!”…[seconds later] ”Arggghhhh!!!” [Quite a few members of the hash]
“I’m not hurt, I just can’t be bothered to move” [Zorro, post fall]
“This modern internet communication is so over-rated” [Hot Lips]
Thanks to Scribbler for the Trash.
Hounds: Hotlips, Big Stiffy, Zorro, Piscine Down, Scribbler, Rubber Sole, Henry V, A Cruel Joke, Pressganger, Qualcast, Call Girl, Comet, Uranus, Tank Slapper, Baby Slapper and Twitcher
Date: 30 October 2016
Distance: c6 miles
Post Script – I gather the Sunday Lunch continued much in the way expected. A long wait, then when the meals started to arrive they were actually the ones for the next table. By the time the rest of the meals arrived the first had had to be eaten and most of the 2nd batch were somewhat chilly!