Foreword: in the finest bardic tradition your scribe began the night with a pint of beer twice as strong as he thought it was. Take note – Tonkoat is not Tonkoko, though it is just as nice. The subsequent run was more of a blur than usual. The chalk talk should have been this:
in fact Frogsporn gave us this…
“Right everybody, thanks so much for coming along to the first anniversary of my virgin Hash. We’ve already found the Holy GrAle so I’m not going to do any Monty Python.”
“Good thing,” said Chafing. “I’m nowhere near funny enough for that.”
“On out is that way.”
“No chalk talk?” asked Kwai. “Hang on, I’m already here, what’s going on?”
“No chalk talk needed,” Frogsporn assured us. “All you need to know is DOUBLE!”
Everyone looked at him.
Up Allergate we went, then down to North Road via Sutton. Here we found a check at the foot of a stairway.
“What do we here, Hare?”
“DOUBLE!” screamed Frogsporn.
Up the stairs we went, then up some more, and then some more, until we reached the lovely little bijou battlement on top. A beautiful view of the Cathedral greeted us.
“Three ways, check ’em out,” said the Hare.
Pimp, Cinderella and Chafing began chatting.
They dashed off in the wake of the Hash. Playtime was being had by the coffee shop, but nobody did the scribe any favours by falling off stuff.
Next thing we knew we were running downhill through muddy woods with no light. Innconts hit a running check, Chafing just behind.
“D’you want the steep slidey bit, or the really steep slidey bit?” asked the veteran Hasher.
“Think I’ll go the wrong way for a change,” said Chafing. And so he did.
Further downhill lay a three-spot FRB. Three wise monkeys were performed.
“CLEAN THOSE UNIFORMS!” screamed the hare.
“Hang on,” said Treasure Chest. “Does anybody actually know this film he’s going on about?”
“Sure,” chorused all the Hashers and Harriets over 50. “It’s an early Sean Connery.”
“But what’s that got to do with…” she looked back the way we’d come. “Oh.”
We hit the road on Framwellgate Peth, turned through the grounds of St Cuthbert’s Church. Less Cargo was found on a FRB in the little wooden portico on the other side of the churchyard; the stop check lay not five feet beyond.
“What’s this stop check doing so close to the FRB?” wondered Counterfit.
“DOUBLE!” screamed the hare.
So up Obelisk Lane, then Albert Street, then Back Western Hill we went. The roads got steeper and steeper. By the time we hit Valeside it was so steep even the tarmac had got tired and given up. We were onto shiggy paths again.
“This lovely little tumulus beside us is known as Hangman’s Hill,” Frogsporn informed us.
We looked at the hill, then at the running check.
“Do we..?” asked Gripper.
Flass Vale woods were very dark, very shiggy, very steep downhill. We all appreciated Frogsporn’s efforts to make the downhills at least as hard as the uphills. After all, who wants an easy Hash?
In fact we hit the longest straight downhill at this point, only scattered tree cover allowing enough light in that we could almost see what we were doing. Halfway down was a fence with stile.
“Shit, that’s barbed wire!” exclaimed Slippery.
Just over the barbed wire we found a five-spot FRB. A lovely opportunity for a Hash catch-up.
“What are you ‘orrible lot doing? DOUBLE!”
On down we went, turning right at the foot of the slope to a check in front of the Kingslodge Inn. Hashers cast about for a while before Omm found flour leading through a back lane past the NUM building. This led – uphill, of course – onto Redhills Lane where we continued to go uphill until we crossed beneath the railway and doddered quickly downwards through the back streets.
Across Hawthorn Terrace Pimp flagged drinks.
“Here we gan,” he said. “Wa*kers have got in here, let’s have a beer stop.”
Seconds later the hare was there.
“This isn’t the beer stop! What are you doing?”
“Which way is it then?” Pimp asked.
The hare pointed uphill.
Up onto Margery Hill Lane we went. Trail along this road was littered with running checks promising a shortcut left.
“It’s got to be down here through these allotments,” Kwai asserted.
“ON BACK DOWNHILL!” screamed the hare.
On up the hill we went.
Trail eventually left the road. We found ourselves in the grounds of Durham School, where steep downhills were so dark that, well…
“Who’s missed this FRB?” Pimp shouted. “Premature evacuation!”
“I’m standing about a foot away from it,” Slippery pointed out from his perch on the tree trunk.
“Christ, didn’t see you there…”
After the downwards stagger to Prebends Bridge (where even Innconts was too tired to summon up an innuendo) we began to cross, only to be called back.
“ON BACK!” screamed the hare. “The flour leads…”
Sure enough, we ran a bit further uphill. We did manage a quick break for a Hash Flash.
This turned out to be the final climb. It led us onto a footpath which fed straight into the back of a pub, Ye Olde Elm Tree. For an olde tree it was pretty packed, a boardgames night mixing with students trying to claim tables for the impending quiz.
“Can ye not stand in front of the door please?” snapped the barmaid at Floppy.
“What’s the problem?” Floppy wondered. “Is she worried the place is too empty, given that the only free floor space is that bit in front of the door?”
A number of hashers had already sacked it off in favour of the Holy GrAle, which was spitting distance down the street. Once the rest of us had finished the obligatory pint we followed on for a very chilly, very brief circle.
“Frogsporn, get in the middle,” said Pimp.
“Aw, what for?” asked the hare.
“HILLS” screamed the entire Hash.
Epilogue: your scribe proceeded to get pretty much arseholed on strong stout after this point – excellent bar, that Holy GrAle – and had to ask the hare for a map of the run to remind himself of where we’d been. The map came complete with a profile chart.
If you stretched it out into a straight line it’d be at least five miles…