|16 Aug 2020||Mike||Maurice|
Mike briefed the group by saying; “This is a new Era in the World of HASH” which felt like we were re-enacting George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. On another day, we might have laughed. But we’d had several months of COVID-19 by this stage, fatigued by it, so a whiff of Newspeak was worth clapping. In fact, given the lugubrious period, anything that a person of stature says is worth following if it gets us back to normal. Mike has more than enough stature to be Big Brother, so bring it on, we said.
As it turned out, he was correct and we had a cracking day.
Not for a moment did we Doublethink, it was simply appropriate that Mike set the trail today. He founded the KVHH in the previous Era and I’d give anything to have heard that kick-off briefing. This one was classic Mike. We were to “socially distance” so we’d be safe and later we were a “social group” so we should keep together. Might have been an opportunity to phone Boris Johnson for clarity but he’s on holidays again, and even that suggestion could get your scribe in handcuffs for Thoughtcrime.
Mike had a trick card. The “R” number, just like on TV. Wow! He said he had placed it in a circle so we could see the whole of Highworth from a great height and we were to wait at that spot, link arms and have a hug. Nobody would see us.
I was honoured to be scribe for this momentous occasion and Hilary even called me the “hash-lauriette” which made my day.
Off we went. We’ve been on Highworth hashes so many times we were in familiar territory. Over by the sports ground and towards the golf course. Easy. There was little flour to start but Jeremy was clear on directions, knew the way, we’d never get lost. At the first circle, Jeremy didn’t even break stride. “On, On” he intoned and on, on he went at a decent pace like a gazelle. In case Big Brother was hovering, I felt it was safer to pretend by running the two other options. I did one and Caroline did the other. And lo and behold, Caroline called “On, On” heading towards the road. The road? The wrong way. What was going on.
Jeremy was so far away I had to shout, then scream “On, On.” A family in a nearby house came from the back, two windows were opened upstairs, the backdoor downstairs, a man got out of his car. Jeremy stopped and I waved with some zest so he could see, and all the people in and around the house waved back as enthusiastically. The New Era. Lovely.
This new trail was so different it did our heads in. We crossed a road, down a hill, into a wooded area, through nettles – though we were moving so fast at that stage the nettles bowed down before us. We settled down. Maybe it would be ok and we wouldn’t get lost.
Keith scoffed later and said Jeremy and he had done it backwards twice with Mike. Maybe, but going backwards is different, especially for Jeremy. Going forwards completely threw him. He got every circle wrong and I got them all right. Towards the end he asked which option I was going to take and I told him. So he went down that option and it was correct. He even leaped in the air and did a high-five. Such enthusiasm. The New Era.
We arrived at the “R” in the circle for our cuddle but broke ranks, COVID being COVID, and sat at different seats. We were supposed to wait for the rest of the gang so we did, but we were it. Somehow the conversation got around to our ages. It turns out I’m the eldest, then Caroline, then Jeremy and then Keith. But Caroline? I thought she was around 50, whereas she’ll be 70 on 12 December this year. If a cracker like Caroline can age so well, there’s hope for the Care Home.
Mind you, all the women on today’s hash looked great – Annie, Julie, Ainslie, Kathy and Caroline. As they were there at the start of the New Era it’s important to list them.
They are on my research list as they confound my theory about ageing. In my view there are men-years and women-years. The men who look after themselves tend to age better whereas the women tend to fall off a cliff after 50. Just saying. Like Trump, I could be right and I could be wrong. I’ll publish my visual research in 30 years’ time but in the meantime the hash women are playing havoc with the theory. “Hash Babes” for the New Era.
To prove our athleticism for oldies, Caroline and I ran like hares down the hill from R. Jeremy hung back so we didn’t lose Keith. At the bottom the trail broke into short and long. Jeremy and I opted for long and we settled into a good old chat on dozens of subjects. We should be special advisers to Big Brother as we always have a consensus that we both advocate with passion. Air Strip One would be a better place, like in the old Era when we had a government that worked. And with Mike as BB, success would be guaranteed. The New Era.
Towards the end we came to the slippery hill that BB had warned us about. It wasn’t that slippery. Jeremy suggested, when we got to the top, that we should look for a water hose for the next group. He could have found himself in Room 101 for that.
The pub garden was well laid out. Drinks were served from a side door. It worked well. We sat four to a table so there was a decent distance between us and the conversation flowed. It was the 75th Anniversary the previous day of the Japanese surrender. Caroline told us that her father was a prisoner of war in Hong Kong for four years and had a horrible time but hadn’t talked about it. But then she regaled us with stories of her family. There’s not enough space here. I’ll ask her to recount them in the Care Home. Every day, probably, as by then every day they’ll be fresh again.
David, quite rightly, got the “virtual” shorts as the real one couldn’t be passed around. I didn’t catch who had been wearing them before but GOM discretely blamed COVID. The reason David got them was because he had cycled the previous Sunday to Highworth. Only out by a week. Bless him! I hope it gets worse so he’s out by two weeks and he’ll arrive on the correct day.
Simon and Kevin were shy with stories for the mag. Maybe I should have consulted them about women over 50 so there would have been a collegiate. We had a new walker join us, welcome to Peter. And with that everyone who was there on this first day is mentioned in despatches. Phew!
We all raised our glasses to Mike, Big Brother Supreme, Leader of Oceania. Setter of a superb hash, a complete surprise that another side exists to Highworth, and he held it back all those years to launch the New Era. A prescient man, our Mike.