Around thirty hashers gathered in the shadow of monumental and ancient Chiltern hills - all anticipating, but dreading, the dizzy heights of hashing that lay before us. Each prepared for the evening in their own way – Niffer bounced around shaking her glow-in-the-dark bangles and talked about what she was wearing, Mick looked knowingly at the sky and mentioned the weather, Mike dreamed about the chips to come and Kerry sensibly stayed at home.
Exactly on the dot of five minutes late the GM announced various things which were promptly forgotten and Barney, our tour-guide for the evening, said that the long and short runs were virtually the same thing.
A long flat on-out along the road seemed to exhaust everyone and the first check saw the long short split, with the longs going even further along the road before getting totally confused at the next footpath. In normal hashing style people started whinging that they didn’t know what was going on as it was called in two directions (this was to become a feature of the evening and it happened at the next few checks as well).
At the second check we saw a light flashing at the top of the hill and everyone assumed it was the shortcutters signalling to us. However, some people interpreted this as a sign to go that way and others interpreted as a sign not to go that way. Yet others ran around in little circles.
At the third check exactly the same thing happened again with, as I recall, Helen being the leader of the “Don’t run towards the light party.” As a result, the five of us who did run that way were eventually caught by a mega-mean on-back check and had to return just under a quarter of a mile to the rear of the pack! – (they must eventually have seen the light, the flour and the way forwards).
Rapidly losing the will to live we headed north around the edge of Park Wood gaining height as we went. Perhaps it was altitude sickness, but I think that Graham moosed at this point and soon turned for home down Smalldean Lane, the rest of us nobly ignored his plight and headed off towards Lacey Green, more hills and more moosing, this time by Phil.
Having “seen the light” earlier we soon skirted around a farm that is genuinely called “Promised Land,” but sadly, though we circled it, we never actually arrived there, perhaps the journey is the important part of the hash anyway .
Some time after Lacey Green had become a dim and distant memory we turned for home, re-passed Promised Land Farm and with only one last hill in the way headed down and back towards the pub.
Half way back we reached Smaldean Lane again and turned pub-wards soon reaching the ON-INN sign. Half a mile and much cursing later we reached a second ON-INN sign. Naturally this confused most of the hash, but fortunately it was still so far back to the pub they had time to forget it before the festivities began.