|28 Nov 2021||Des||Maurice|
I lay in bed this morning thinking about poor Des out there laying the Hash. Storm Arwen probably destroyed half his trail, knocked over several trees for us to jump over, and I imagined the bitter chill wind from yesterday would deter the less-hardy from coming on the hash today.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Clear blue sky, a beautiful Autumn morning with yellows and browns still on the trees and saffron on the ground and Des, our Mister Positive, out there dancing like a little fairy with his pot of flour, singing a merry song. And the hashers didn’t let him down, it was a great turnout.
We hadn’t been to the Wellesley Arms in Sutton Benger before so there was the added frisson of excitement about new territory. Des’s wife, Jane, joined us this morning which was lovely, though I doubt she’ll come again. Two of Des’s friends, Mike and Claire, were there as well and Des went through the explanation of circles and dots and arrows and we all smiled because we know all that and the friends looked puzzled which was a bad sign. I doubt we’ll see them again either.
As Des had our full attention, he decided to launch into a history of the village but I lost him at a charter from King Ethelwulfin in 854 AD. I lost my hearing aids recently and didn’t feel I could elbow my way forward, what with the Omicron virus hovering around, so I stood back, caught every second word and re-enacted freezing the balls off a brass monkey. Des stopped somewhere around 1600 AD when he realised the scantily clad runners were turning into solid objects.
Off we trotted, trying to emulate Des as a fairy. I’ll never get that image out of my mind now.
Across the road and around the corner and I had my first incident. There in front of me was Sonia stripped down to her black running bra. Bit early for that I thought and gave a big smiley, Des-happy type “good morning” and got a grunt for my trouble. Looking a bit closer I realised it wasn’t Sonia and when I looked up at the face it was dark and cloudy. A hot sweaty runner who wasn’t happy. I trotted on at speed and lo and behold there was Sonia in front with Mike. Sonia greeted me with her gorgeous smile and a new hairstyle that really suits her and all was well with the world again. Phew!
This was one of the best hashes. Beautiful areas to run through, the mix of wood and field, hedgerow and a myriad of landmarks.
Des really laid it on for this hash. His father told me later in the pub that he had been out with Des on several occasions checking the trail, three miles on one walk. Poor man! We chatted about the extras: electric fences, the company of horses and cows, and pigs no less, lots of them with only a small path and electric fence at ankle height to stop them from eating us. Pigs are dangerous creatures, just think about all the murder mysteries where the bodies are thrown to the pigs and the evidence is gone.
I worried about my dogs. Poor Rocky, my big galumphing Labrador, decided to check them out as he was off the lead. As if there weren’t enough smells underfoot. I kept Freddie, a little schnauzer, close to me as the pigs would’ve had him in one gulp.
We came to the sixty-four arched Causeway that Des had told us about. It’s a walkers’ bridge that is about two metres above the road. We spent a little time reading what Des had told us at the briefing. The causeway was the gift of the eponymous Maud Heath in the 15th century, who made her living carrying eggs to market at Chippenham. She was a widow and childless, and when she died, she left money to improve and maintain the path along which she had tramped to market several times a week for most of her life. She could be a role model for all women hashers.
I came across this quotation about the Causeway:
“Thou who dost pause on this aerial height
Where Maud Heath’s pathway winds in shade of light
Christian wayfarer in a world of strife
Be still and ponder on the path of life.”
Then we observed the poor work on the monument by the stonemason who didn’t measure the letters and ended with an overflow to the next line. Someone said they didn’t have spirit levels in those days. We are a picky lot.
I should mention the farmer and his wife who thought we were off-piste and whizzed around on quads telling us where we had gone wrong and pointing out the correct route. They were friendly and smiled. You don’t get that every hash day. They were wrong, by the way, and Des was correct, so there.
I enjoyed running and chatting to Eleanor and Colin, Keith and Caroline, and Jeremy who walked some of the way with me. Mike was there at every stile, and there were many of them, helping me get the dogs over the top. I really think the farmers around Wiltshire could do better for dogs getting over fences. I’ve had many occasions where barbed wire has done serious damage to Rocky.
It’s a pity we didn’t have the bags as Sonia would definitely have been given them for her ageist remarks to Caroline and me. Admittedly she was bemoaning her sixty-six-year-old mother but seemed somewhere in there to see that particular age as the beginning of the end. We had to remind her that she was running with two people in their seventies who weren’t even out of breath. Honestly, Sonia!
We got back to the pub and had a separate room for ourselves and then the offal hit the fan.
First, I was about to sip my pint when Hilary said she couldn’t get her car out of the overflow car park and that she felt it made her feel like a cliché, but could I help her by moving my car and several others as she was only used to driving in straight lines. I was sitting and she was standing and wouldn’t your heart twist when a lovely face like that is appealing straight into your eyes. We sorted her out, a level of detail here would only embarrass her so I’ll stop.
Oh, yes, then the offal and the fan. Jane phoned Des to say she didn’t know where she was. After close questioning, Des was able to decipher that she was in a field with her two friends and they had stopped seeing flour. Those three wouldn’t be great on a mountain in a mist when the perceived wisdom is to go back to the top of the mountain if you are lost, and then navigate forward. Ok, there wasn’t a mountain but you get the gist. On reflection, which is nearly as good as hindsight, it turned out they saw an arrow pointing over a stile and walked into the wilderness, into oblivion. And got lost. Des told me later that the arrow was a T, meaning “go any way you like, but not this way.” The hare headed out and retrieved them and of course being the magnanimous Des that he is, blamed himself. It’s a pity we don’t have the shorts for deviants, but then we’d never see those again either.
Somewhere before they got lost, Jane found a pair of spectacles. It turned out that Des had lost them. What is it with that family?
Keith stood in for Kevin who is in America and looking forward to coming back to isolation. Keith gave a warm and well-deserved tribute to Des for a truly wonderful hash. David threw a spanner into the works by questioning the number of circles, then deviated off into some monologue about something nobody understood. Des said he’d count David’s circles on the next hash as David is hare. Mmm! Pistols at dawn, methinks.
Keith also announced that Maurice would act as hare next time if Kevin wasn’t back and then we would have all the detail about the Boxing Day hash as Maurice is hare. It was agreed it will be fancy dress.