Unfortunately I managed to miss the usual proffering of the route by our esteemed hare, Sooper, and the inevitable backchat that ensues about length, uphilliness and shigitude (see later). However for my tardiness I was rewarded with the duty of being scribe for the night. Surely a dependable mechanism to ensure prompt arrival for future hashes!? What I did manage to ascertain from the briefing was that the holy grail (a cup or dish with miraculous powers that provide happiness, eternal youth or sustenance in infinite abundance) of the hash, hot chips, would be served no later than 9pm so we had better get a wriggle on.
We set off in fair weather and that is as far as our luck held out… As we careered of in a westerly direction towards the hamlet of Little Marlow we encountered some low grade shiggy upon which I was told “you should have been here last week!”. Stories of the legendary mud on the previous hash from the Full Moon in Little Kingshill, which I had sadly managed to miss, were regaled and escalated from ankle deep to thigh deep to one spurious report of an area of neck deep shaggy? I have often wondered how this interesting term arose. The seasoned hashers amongst are probably well aware that it derives from shigella/shigellosis – a bacteria causing dysentery occurring most frequently in areas of poor sanitation such as pig sties and back-water swamp lands such as Bourne End. Shigella is one of the leading bacterial causes of diarrhoea worldwide, causing an estimated 80–165 million cases. The number of deaths it causes each year is estimated at between 74,000 and 600,000. I never new we were being exposed to such a hazard?
As we slithered along we discussed as to whether there is an official grading system for mud? The nearest equivalent I can find is the going stick in horse racing. This looks like a spade handle without the blade and has recently been computerised to ensure consistency between users.
The GoingStick accurately measures the penetration (the amount of force required to push the tip into the ground) and the shear (the energy needed to pull back to an angle of 45 degrees from the ground). These two measures taken in combination represent a scientifically based proxy for the firmness of the ground and level of traction experienced by a horse during a race.
The information is automatically stored in the GoingStick memory and an average of all readings can be provided instantly.
This could produce some great data but it seems not ideally applicable to our needs. More thought needed here…
Anyway, I degress. We then found ourselves running passed the Marlow Crowne Plaza and on to the long-short split. We longs headed to Marlow Rugby club and then through the Environment Agency’s efforts at holding back the overspill of the mighty Thames river at Gosmore Park. Hollering “ON ON” at the top of their lungs could not be resisted by certain members of the hash as we headed through the arches under the bypass. Then a scenic squelch along the riverbank with a refreshing shower of fine rain in our faces bought us back to the cosy and welcoming bosom of the Spade Oak pub promptly at just after 9 o’clock. It is amazing the power of a plate of hot battons of potato, super crispy on the outside and fluffy on the middle, can have to encourage keen route finding and fleet of foot ensuring a timely return to the refuge of the pub.